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You want me to do what?

Your worst enemy is often yourself. So get out of the way.

An opinion from David Farmer | CEO of Ad Giants

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When we were young, we took risks. Some that were downright stupid, but that's how we learned. We mostly learned to trust older people that would gladly point out our stupidity well before we ignored them and subsequently failed. But at the end of the day, we "thought" we knew best. This commentary is about just how many people never shed that attitude of "knowing better" as they get older. In fact, in a ton of cases, that attitude got even worse.

Imagine, if you will, telling your doctor his diagnosis or recommended drug therapy wasn't what you felt was correct? Or telling the pilot to cut engine two in order to save fuel, it's all fine. Those examples are exaggerated to make a point, because the devil is in the details. It's the seemingly "easy stuff" that we become know-it-alls over. Not only does it play out in our professional life, but also at home. Neither have great outcomes.

What's this got to do with marketing?

Actually, quite a lot. And if you take a moment to reflect, you'll see that we all do it. We hit the wall in business, need customers, need marketing experts because otherwise you'll just stare at a blank piece of paper for days or worse, you try it yourself because your mom always said you were "so creative" and you produce absolute crap, and no one is brave enough to tell you for fear of hurting your feelings.

Eventually, you do decide to hire a pro, and then what? You end up telling them what to do. Why is this? Well, after 40 years of doing it, I can tell you. It's a subjective business ONCE THE IDEA IS ON THE TABLE. Or so it seems. It's actually NOT. A solid idea didn't just fall out of someones butt. It was carefully thought through from every possible business and creative solution, compared with proven marketing formulas, known media data and then spun to be uniquely yours.

But far too often, the client looks, and in a moment becomes the "expert." Amazing! How did that work? And then, ideas start flooding out of their mouths about "how to improve it" as if suddenly struck by the creative bolt of genius from Zeus himself. Well, I'd love to say that's a good thing, but it kills souls. It stomps the passion immediately out of the creative expert that spent hours honing that precious idea to perfection, only to watch yet another arm-chair quarterback demolish the thought with the grace of a hippo on ice skates.

So now what?

I'll tell you. Shit dies. Good shit. Even worse, it gets watered-down into a ghost of what it could and should be, and then it fails. And then, who's to blame? You got it, the creative expert. It's amazing how the client forgets how they literally killed the idea. This is how creative people slowly die. The average burn-out age for creative people is 35. They endure, on average, 10 solid years of this BS until they can no longer bother to try. Why? "It's going to die anyway, so why try anymore?" That's why we all watch TV and comment on how bad spots suck. "Man, ad agencies really suck now don't they?!" 

No. You suck.

In Summary

Yes, this is downright harsh and immature. The truth often seems that way. But if you know a good creative person that loves working for you, don't mess it up. Get out of the damn way. Reel out a ton of rope and let them fly. There's only one thing that will happen, your work will perform and get better. And then if it doesn't, find a new creative person. Because great work, works. It just does.