Jay Heyman is an idea guy. His book on the topic, All You Need is a Good Idea!: How to Create Marketing Messages that Actually Get Results, pulls back the curtain on the idea creation process to reveal why a "good" idea is so much more valuable than a "great" idea. (Hint: Perfection kills!)
As part of Paul Williams' Idea Sandbox virtual book tour, I had the opportunity to read about Jay Heyman's experiences and playful opinions on the world of ideas.
That experience comes in the form of the New York advertising and marketing world. As principal of a creative marketing firm, Heyman's daily work involves the very raw, emotional, and oft times maddening process of developing ideas. He describes what life is like working through those chaotic, collaborative relationships that underpin the ideation process itself.
Client case studies are pulled from his direct experience with people who struggled to distill the essence of what they offer to the world (what Jay codenames your "") and the resulting creative journey for which Jay and his team served as happy guides. He also bravely shares those instances in which the idea went down in flames!
Jay's writing is extremely engaging and personable, capturing the voice of a warm, avuncular personality with real world experience. (This ain't HBO's Mad Men series!)
For any business or practitioner, Jay has solid, understandable advice with scores of simple questions to ask yourself or your clients. He shows us how to cut through the clutter of the strategic planning and branding process to form lasting relationships with customers.
Like many of you, I am usually reading anywhere from two to 10 books simultaneously.
Consequently, many of my questions for Jay were inspired by other authors writing in this field of idea generation and marketing, especially those writers exploring the disruptive innovations of social networking and fragmentation of media markets: Clay Shirky, Chip and Dan Heath, Valdis Krebs, Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin.
Read on for Jay's insightful responses.
Our Virtual Interview
In the book, you focus much attention on your success in the agency world helping major brands craft and pitch their ideas to the market. These days, the shifting sands seem to be rapidly moving away from traditional agency campaigns focused on big brands towards smaller, tighter relationships with a constantly morphing integration of product, new media, one-to-one connections, and leveraging customers as word-of-mouth evangelizers.
Q: What are your thoughts on those emerging new media skill sets?
The most significant difference to me between traditional “brand” advertising and today’s new media is the interactive, evolving, and involving nature of today’s communication connections. The wise contemporary marketer does not just talk at his customer. He engages with them, connects with them, hoping to convince them to want to become a missionary.
Customers are invited to create their own commercials on Youtube. Looking inside a bottle cap does not give you a prize, which ends the relationship, but rather encourages your visit to the product’s website, where you can continue the dialogue.
More and more, you can Twitter a question to dedicated customer support, rather than the traditionally detested phone tree of barely comprehensible choices.
But while positive word-of-mouth may reach many more ears with today’s new technology, I must add that knowledgeable marketers have always put their customers’ first, seeking good relationships by using whatever tools were available at the time. Sure, the mechanics may change, but the smart marketers have always had the skill set to use the available tools in a meaningful way.
When my book talks about marketing communications, it is not speaking only of the end result—the promotion, or ad or commercial. Marketing communications means all the things a marketer does that affect their relationship with the customer. An acknowledgment when you enter a physical store, a customer friendly returns policy, the lack of paragraphs of tiny print that take away what the headline offers…these are all part of the customer relationship, traditional though they may be. A small web business may not have thousands of customers, or even hundreds. But he must recognize how important being authentic and available matter and, above all, that relationships matter.
Q: You have a blog (http://allyouneedisagoodidea.typepad.com) and are using Web 2.0 tools: What has been the steepest learning curve for you personally in the last 2 years?
The mechanics of creating a blog and attempting to discover the value of the various social media have been the most interesting challenges for me. The blog was created to promote my book, and then took on a life of its own.
And each person I spoke to was an advocate of whatever social medium he or she was using. So I vacillated among choosing to focus on my blog, networking, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxos, Constant Contact, Ning, Feed My Inbox, Backtype, or this week’s newest, Likaholix. Which ones, or what combinations? Which RSS feeds do I subscribe to?
The answer is that life is too short, or at least each day often is. Like many others, with their own daily responsibilities, I have to run my ad agency, post my blog, promote my book, do my networking, and most important, enjoy my family.
So I have to be able to handle the tools I use before I take on new ones. But I am slowly getting there. When I first joined LinkedIn, for example, I must admit that my definition for them was, “Many have joined. Few know why.” Now I am getting more comfortable with it, and think I see where it can be a value. But at the expense of Twitter? Or are they complementary? Or this year’s 8-track or Betamax?
Perhaps it is simply generational. My daughters think nothing of multitasking with Facebook, IM’s, ITunes, Flickr, while texting and who knows what else. Many blogs I visit offer links to Twitter, del.icio.us, podcasts, webinars, Technorati and twelve other sites I have only barely heard of. However, considering my first computer was an Apple Performa 400, I feel I am doing rather well.
Lastly, now that we have web 2.0, are you ready for web 3.0? It’s coming, of course, with a complete new set of content we simply can’t envision, but have to master. But I want to emphasize the point I made earlier, that web 2.0, 3.0 and beyond are only tools. The difference has been and will continue to be what you do with these tools, the good ideas you create that induce people to interact with you, your business, your community, rather than elsewhere.
Q: Beyond sales of ideas, how can your principles help virtual teams take on major problems?
The purpose of my book was not to talk about the sale of ideas, but rather their creation. And I do believe the use of creativity can help provide solutions to difficult problems. “There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come,” to quote Victor Hugo. Look at the idea behind today’s most popular search engine. “Let’s not clutter the experience. We’ll just use a sterile page and a single search box.” And the good idea that said, “Hey, why not have an encyclopedia online that uses the collective brains of the community, rather than a small number of experts.”
It is not that the only arrow I have in my quiver is the belief in the power of good ideas. But I am on this tour, and at your blog, because of my belief that imagination, creativity, innovation and surprising solutions have the capacity to help teams both virtual and concrete unravel major problems.