Connect With the Past for Future Campaigns

I was sitting in a strategy meeting for a client’s product launch campaign when our lead designer pulled up a comp he’d done for a previous advertiser. The purpose was to illustrate his vision of how the Flash technology in the new campaign would function. Yet in reminding us of an interesting concept, he also resolved many unanswered questions.

The new campaign will be all the better for it. And were it not for his nod to the past, we might have struggled for quite some time. With this recent experience in mind and Memorial Day just days behind us, I’ve been contemplating the idea of remembrance: looking back at days past and saluting those who did great things before us. A look back can benefit us, our clients, and their customers in a number of ways.

Far too often, we rush through our days and our campaigns without a thought to what’s already been accomplished. Opportunities abound for us to appreciate and learn from our predecessors and past efforts. Here’s how.

Stay Ahead of the Game

Right now, talk in Detroit is of the Eastern Conference Finals and the Pistons, who are fighting to reclaim the title they won in 2004. Historically, I’m told, the team has been most successful when it’s gotten off to an early series lead.

In many ways, the same holds true for media buyers. Faced with countless placement opportunities and technologies, the pressure is on to stay ahead of the competition and create campaigns that perform well from the get-go. One way to do so is to learn from past failures and prevent those mistakes from happening again.

If your agency is remiss in maintaining records of past and present buys and associated performance statistics, ask around. You might be considering a site a colleague has had a negative experience with before and could leverage his lessons for the benefit of your current campaign. (In the Pistons’ case, if they can just remember how good it must have felt to win in 2004, we might be in good shape).

Revisit Past Successes

Remember Joe Isuzu? The ubiquitous fictional automotive spokesperson was a mainstay of ’80s TV spots, only to disappear for nearly a decade. Isuzu Motors brought him back a few years ago. Some industry observers believe the move helped contribute to the automaker’s (albeit temporary) success.

It’s tempting to want to blaze your own trail and devise strategies that will someday have others borrowing on your successes. But we’d be negligent if we didn’t give credit to past campaigns and reconsider them in the context of the present media space.

The path back isn’t always paved in gold, but you may find valuable knowledge and inspiration in what’s been done before. And your clients are certain to appreciate your acknowledgement of their previous media investments and willingness to respect the image they’ve worked hard to create.

Reconnect With Old Friends

Recently, I found myself in the enviable position of working with an old friend and former colleague. As it turns out, there was some synergy between our two companies, so we’ll be collaborating on a few upcoming initiatives.

Turnover in our industry is high. It’s easy to lose track of even the most respected coworkers and contacts. But given few of us venture too far outside the interactive fold, reconnecting isn’t out of the question. Once you do, you might find the opportunity exists for you to rally again. The same holds true of your favorite salesperson, who may now represent the very media vendor you’ve been eyeing for your next big campaign.

The easiest way to reestablish contact with these coworkers is often to seek them out online. LinkedIn offers a tool that helps find old colleagues by searching for members with bios featuring the same employment information as yours. If your old colleague doesn’t have a particularly common name, you might even find him by searching the network as a whole. Or simply Google him. At the very least, you’ll learn about the great things he’s up to now.

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