Applying 'the collision factor' to project marketing: Peter Chittenden

Peter ChittendenApril 8, 20130 min read

I want to spend some time talking about how ‘the collision factor’ can applied to marketing, communications and in general to building business culture.

No, I am not talking about the collisions taking place in the Large Hadron Collider under the Swiss-French border, but about the value of unscripted collisions or interface between colleagues and with customers.

In January I spent some time talking about the many trends and benefits of digital and online marketing and how this area continues to grow massively.

But I think that it is also equally important to retain and value the face-to-face contact that still, in my view underpins successful project marketing and further any sales path will not be successful without a high level of personal engagement between everyone involved.

While a great deal can be achieved in the digital world and many an email will flow during any sale, it’s relationships that count.

Even Yahoo needs the water cooler

Here’s just one example worth thinking about. In late February there was news that some even painted as treacherous when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer ordered that her employees work at the office instead of at home.

The question is: how is this related to my topic? And further: where is the relationship with creative marketing to be found? While some people suggest Mayer’s move was more to do with Yahoo’s troubled history, I still think there were a few basic points in Marissa Mayer’s move that are worth reflecting on.

Her mission at Yahoo has been about shaking up the status quo and so while I understand the objections that have followed, I think it is good to shake things about and this also applies to marketing, because we can all become overly comfortable or we can latch onto this or that idea as ‘the answer’.

And so while we are a long way from the problems that Mayer might be facing, the debate she has started is relevant.

From a big picture sense I agree that interactions among employees — the idea dropped at the water cooler, over a coffee, or even a remark as you wash your hands – can sometimes be worth a week of workshops.

I also think the same casual encounters with clients and customers can produce gems of feedback or good ideas. And if we reduce this sort of interaction we are all the poorer.

Collisions between people can also help grow and improve initial ideas so that they can morph into something else, something useful, and this process can be frustrated if caught up in a more formal process.

This is stuff that can’t be captured completely in email while a casual collision can be a refreshing experience, some good or even great ideas can’t be planned because we don’t know what direction creativity will take us, I think that we do better together in an open exchange and always will.

I also think that by being open to different ideas, in particular when we look for a creative idea it’s worth moving away from a form of template approach.

If creative leaders show up to argue their views across varied formats, and this will include digital, then they do a good job.

I have great respect for people who are able to generate new ideas but I also appreciate that being too prescriptive can mar the creativity that some projects desperately need.

While the digital world delivers great results I am willing to strongly suggest that projects, sales teams and marketing groups all need live bodies present and talking face-to-face so there is room for a collaborative approach that does not handicap the results that need to be secured.

From a general perspective I think that the Yahoo example is helpful when we are building teams that will look at what creative and all levels of communications need to achieve, and not concentrate on a particular look or channel of media.

Running into a buyer in the local supermarket or a sporting event who gives some ‘collision’ feedback might just be the idea you are looking for. The result or idea could well be a marketing gem and sales success and I am not that sure the same buyer would email any of us such feedback spontaneously.

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.

Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.
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