Experiment Your Ass Off

John Bell has a great post on his blog talking about Office Max’s “Elf Yourself” campaign. The important thing here is not how the campaign was viral and got passed around every office holiday party or email from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The important thing is that Office Max experimented with several campaigns KNOWING that not all would stick. They planned for some to fail. But once they found one that worked – they stuck with it and ramped it up.

This is a great example of how it’s done these ways and in the new economy.

Six month test marketing? No way! Who has time that stuff. We need results now! I don’t know about you, but I can sleep much better at night knowing that I have a bunch of things in the works and that if something fails, I can plug something in right away.

No matter how much research you do or how well thought out it is, if you put all of your chips on one campaign, it’s a big risk.

clipped from johnbell.typepad.com
The days of researching adn “cathedral-building” a campaign must die. No one, no expert of any kind, knows exactly what will work especially when it comes to this narrow world of “viral campaigns.’ The best professional advice is to poise yourself for experiments and be ready to dial up the effective ones. And time, ‘she’s-a-wastin.’ Do a few things at once or in a short period of time. No one has the stamina for 6 months of testing what might work.

This is a big shift. Many ad agencies have either a creative or planner-dominated culture. Both can be ‘cathedral-builders.’ And the best of them are great salespeople on the brand value of cathedral building. They can really suck you in.

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