When did making work, work become unfashionable?

Men-at-work

Are we seeing less of this?

I work in Advertising as an Account Planner.

There, I said it. It’s a bit unfashionable these days.

I work in a world where content strategy abounds, where ‘always on’ has overtaken periodic activity, and where admitting this seems hugely old fashioned.

And yet, given the deluge of activity, I’m minded by just how little business-changing work has been made over the past few years.

Sure, I’ve seen countless content plans. Written a hearty number of them. I’ve produced CRM plans, digital strategies, messaging matrixes (otherwise known as a table with words in it) and Welcome journeys. Tweaked the copy within UX. Created endless brand architecture. Even altered email headings.

It feels like I’ve never been busier over the past 3-4 years, but have, conversely, created so much less work that’s made a difference than in the first 4-5 years of my career.

I think I can pinpoint this switch.

It’s when agencies, so determined to ‘own’ the strategic relationship, created more and more strategic scaffolding around the idea and spent fewer hours kicking the tyres of whether the ideas in question were actually appropriate.

This hasn’t been helped by the quackery of content marketing; it’s commodified the idea, turning ideas – the most powerful resource we have as both a discipline and an industry – into cement for a comms plan.

Of course, the long tail of the internet enabled this (passion points and niche interests must be addressed…!), but the arrogance of agencies in believing that they could somehow control ‘content’ through a communications plan (or worse, a funnel – because, let’s be honest, how few people have ever passed through the eyes of a 100 year marketing funnel purely logically?) hasn’t helped.

It’s why I believe we need to reclaim the primacy of the idea.

To treat it with the love and respect it deserves.

1808w-Chobani-Squeeze

A proper idea, this one – flipping what Chobani IS, and how it’s used.

Don’t get me wrong, writing communication plans are wonderful, but they mean nothing without a good idea powering them. They are just the blueprints – they aren’t the building.

Knowing how everything fits together is critically, critically important – but without an idea that’s aimed to change how a business sells or services a market – well, we’re only doing half a job.

After all, what’s more fashionable than coming up with a well planned, thought through idea that’s grounded as much in what your business/brand won’t do, one that responds to a commercial need (or, better, solves it in an oblique way – just look at how the Ploughman’s Lunch was invented, or what Chobani have just done) that really solves an issue?

Not a lot, in my view.

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