My latest marketing inspiration comes from the fascinating Netflix documentary, Abstract, which profiles innovative designers around the world. This is the first instalment of a series of articles I’m writing that reference key practices or principles from some of my favourite episodes. I thought it would be useful to share how marketers and entrepreneurs could take the lessons learned from some of the designers and apply it to their business.

Today’s article focuses on episode four featuring Bjarke Ingels, a Danish architect.

1. Hybrid / Cross-Breed Ideas

Sometimes solutions are not derived purely from one discipline or one approach. Often, when we present options in a meeting, we think of them in silos: choose one or the other. In my work, it happens all the time. The client chooses, or rather, we hope to recommend one or the other. But what about both? Or if it isn’t feasible to do both, could you blend the two together?

2. Yes Is More. Obsess About Delivering Everything

We have a saying: We can’t have everything. Remember the three-legged stool? Of the three legs – price, quality, and speed – we say you can have, at most, two of the three. But Bjarke always says “yes” and works to deliver on all requests from clients. A good solution doesn’t force people to pick and choose.

3. Outlandish is the Zone of “Cool”

Giant ski slope on a power plant? That’s ridiculous, isn’t it? But they’re doing it. In general, we’re afraid of doing something outlandish. “What will people think? I can’t do that!” This is the zone we have to work in if we want to get attention. Go small at first. Start with something a bit out of the ordinary then push it a little bit more the next time, then the next. Eventually, work your way “out there.”

4. The Final Product Should Feel Effortless

When we work on a new concept, idea, or way of marketing a product or service, in the end, the final message, product, or stimulus should feel effortless. Yes, there is hard work and a lot of effort that goes into the work, but in the end, it should look and feel so simple. And simplicity is beautiful. A lot of marketing is pushy (effortful) but that means we’re not far enough. It should feel so simple that the customer says, “that just makes sense.”

5. Critics Are Inevitable

Anything out of the realm of typical or traditional should attract critics. We spend a lot of time trying to stay within the lines so we don’t attract negative feedback. Ultimately, you just end up with something flavourless. If we don’t have any backlash, we’re not pushing ourselves far enough.

Photo by Dmitri Popov on Unsplash


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