Oh Behave! How Collaboration Can Lead to Efficiency and Innovation

In my last column, I talked about the number of ways in which a media campaign can create impact. While I remain convinced of the role this thinking can play in a successful media strategy, none of it would be possible without one key behavioral characteristic: collaboration. In order to achieve any degree of success, all parties need to understand the importance of equitable collaboration. This includes everything from brand planning, focus groups, brainstorms, and through the process of creative concepting and media negotiations.

You never know where a great idea or thought can come from – but you have to allow for it to be possible. And now, more than ever, you have to start looking to answer the questions you never thought to ask.

Equitable collaboration requires a different kind of thinking and a different kind of behavior. And while some productive innovation can come from unlikely sources through unlikely means, doing it well requires process and structure. The key to successful collaboration lies in finding that happy medium and knowing when and where to increase your efforts (and perhaps your investment) based on the project at hand. While the decision maker for this is often on the account side, it is up to everyone to ask more questions and push the envelope to feel empowered to collaborate.

Here are just a few types of behavior that comprise and lead to equitable collaboration:

  1. Turn up the volume (of communication, that is). The idea of collaboration or increasing the volume of communication is a behavior that is harder to grasp for some, as new generations are more tech-savvy, but instead rely heavily on email, IM, chat, and text messages for communication as opposed to good old-fashioned talking. Word of mouth now translates to a Facebook wall post instead of over-the-fence backyard chatting or the telephone. Long email trails going back and forth can create a world of confusion that a 10-minute, in-person conversation could alleviate and prevent.
  2. Do the right thing. If you want a standard media plan, then send a standard brief. If you want something different, then do something different. By fostering a collaborative environment through work space, cross training, or simply creating change in something standard, you are furthering the intelligence and innovation capabilities. The process is more fun and the result feels more relevant for the consumer as you have created more visibility and transparency into a bigger picture.
  3. Go with the flow. Online media has to be – and is becoming – much different than it was as recent as two years ago. Digitally savvy consumers are learning new behaviors and where to focus their attention (similar to how they learned to look at the left side of a magazine page as the right side was often populated with advertisements). Because of this, you have to learn not just where your customers are, but how they behave in order to reach them – and keep them coming back.

Through behavioral targeting and other advanced target tactics, we have the ability to know multiple data points about past behaviors, interests, and preferences; however, predictive modeling cannot guarantee a specific action. It is always within the consumer’s frame of mind at that point in time as to what they will do. Isn’t the idea to create something the consumer will value? And aren’t we all consumers through our day-to-day lives?

Collaboration is a lot like the philosophy of testing different elements in a media plan: sometimes it will work and sometimes it will fail. However, just because it does not work, does not mean it will never work. Try, try again.

Amy is off today. This column was originally published on July 18, 2011 on ClickZ.

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