Slow Down to Go Fast
Do you ever have that amazing creative streak, where everything you work on is immaculate despite the hurdles you leapt in a single bound? And you leave work feeling so good about yourself?
Do you also have those days when all that goes out of the window when a really tight deadline comes in? And I mean really tight. That’s when we fall into manic-panic mode, and trust me, creativity does not thrive in such conditions.
Equally as important, when we shift our mindsets into ‘emergency mode’, we can end up being less efficient. That moment when we need efficiency most it is gone like the proverbial unicorn.
Something that happens when any company grows is that in order to cover the short-term work load, people tend to move faster. So, most departments shift into aforementioned manic-panic mode; a systematic and endemic disease that we don’t even realize we have contracted until we burn out. Part of the reason why we fall into this unnecessary emergency mode is we failed to slow down in the beginning to get clear on the strategy. Something I had the chance to watch first hand at a training event. The groups leapt into the fray eager to get done but fairly quickly they found themselves in varying stages of frustration or disconnect to the team. The exercises were in fact partly designed to show what happens if we don’t stop and set out a clear plan and identify roles for our teams.
It makes sense to know everything we need to know before starting on a project. But with expansion, we sometimes tend to forego this crucial step. Instead of being strategic, we rush into our jobs. If you, like me, are an A-type personality, we have probably been guilty of this on some days.
I’m going to call it the Superman Syndrome: we think we can save the day at the very last minute.
The challenge is this does not work well in businesses where processes and deadlines are critical, like in mortgage or finance for example. It can also kill your creativity. Now, if you are saying that working in loans, or finance, means that you are not creative-I happen to disagree. There are families and people behind those numbers that you crunch, and you often have to be creative in helping them get all of their docs and get to closing on time. And you are. In fact one of the biggest comments I get when talking with our customers is that you leaped tall buildings to get them their loan!
Here is an example of creativity in marketing.
Here is why slowing down is so important for us:
- You have time to get all your information upfront-the who, what, why, when, where. You would be amazed at how often we don’t get much information other than, “we need a flyer”. Then the email love fest begins.
- We have time to research who it is you are wanting to impact-panic is horrible for research. For example: would you like a flyer for Upscale Younger Mostly w/ Kids 25-44 mostly homeowners. Young, upper-middle-class families seeking to escape suburban sprawl find refuge in New Homesteaders, a collection of small rustic townships. With a mix of jobs in white and blue-collar industries, these dual-income couples have fashioned comfortable, child-centered lifestyles; their driveways are filled with campers and powerboats, their house with the latest technological gadgets and hunting gear. They drive a Subaru, they go to Cold Stone, they shop at Justice, they fly Frontier and they visit the NHL.com. Now of course I don’t expect that from a loan officer when they order a flyer. But if I know which market you are in and that you are talking to 25-44’s then I can take a moment and look up geographically who you are trying to talk to. And I can get as granular as you see above.
- You and I have time to strategize-there is no use diving into something in which you have no clue what the end point is. Here is what I mean by strategize. Is this a single flyer? Or do you want a campaign? How do you want to reach them? Do you want JUST a flyer or a social media piece? Do you want to cross promote with a Cabelas or just do a poster for your office? Would you like to tattoo cows along the side of the road? Sounds crazy I know. That campaign did happen feel free to ask me about it.
- You have time to craft better creative-slowing down means you give yourself time to keep playing around with ideas and making it better. I love this example of bandit signs and the fact that the branch manager “trusted” us to make it even better. She had in mind exactly what she wanted but once I got her on the phone I heard something I hadn’t realized before; she was packing these signs very densely in one geographic location to start. Bazinga! Dawnie then has an idea. Why not do a campaign? 3 simple messages. 3 different signs placed fairly close together so that the driver reads all 3 to make a whole statement about why they should call us. Win-win! She was thrilled and I felt AMAZING for the whole weekend.
Bottom line? Creativity in business is critical. The more relaxed we are, the more space the brain has to be creative. This is where brilliant campaigns come from: good ideas that are honed to become brilliant ideas. It’s quicker than you expect! Slowing down at the very beginning to strategize and ensure you have everything you need to start is crucial, and it also allows you to leave time for revisions and feedback. The minute there is a tight deadline, our own personalities start to kick in. But at the end of the day, it is not about us at all. It is about them. Them…by the way is not more of us. It’s our family of customers.
In essence, take a moment get your strategy with your team then get the marketing team involved. Yes, you can force people to speed up, go fast and still get good creative. But you won’t get consistently good creative. Or consistently good processes. There are some companies that have a recognizable brand. The reason for this is consistency. The creative will change, but the message is the same. Inconsistent messaging results in inconsistent results. And inconsistency is a result of not slowing down. So for today, I’m going to put the Superman cape away and focus on helping us get faster by slowing down.