Death by Committee

© tom smisek marketing consultants orange county CA

Nothing will kill a great marketing concept more effectively, than a committee. The death may not be an instant kibosh of the entire idea, but more often a slow incremental disemboweling of the strategy, by suggestions, changes, additions and eliminations of key elements. All of which gut the creative approach, rendering it untenable. It is frustrating when a Marketing Professional puts the best of their experience and talent into creating a unique, dynamic concept, only to be shot down by naive individuals who think they know better or have different opinions.

As a Marketing Consultant, and like most creative professionals, we take pride in our work. So yes, there is some ego involved. We put considerable time and effort into analyzing the market, the clients’ capabilities and objectives before the creative thinking begins. We consider the market opportunities, study the competition and from all of this research we identify a niche that we can capitalize on. Then we design a creative presentation based on those factors and outside objectivity. The creative proposal is a well thought out, combination of coordinated campaign elements, designed to work in harmony for the greatest impact.

When the presentation to the client involves members of company staff, employees or associates, there is a risk. Questions and comments are welcome, but conflicting ideas can open Pandora’s Box. Outsider suggestions, opinions are subjective and can be irrelevant or counterproductive to the objectives, with criticism coming from those who feel they have a little bit of advertising knowledge or experience, or a better idea. It may be their personal point of view or something that they had seen that they liked and want to emulate. It is frustrating when a committee will unanimously decide to change the marketing strategy, creative direction, media or elements based on their feelings of what is trending and what they personally like. Sometimes the group will have conferred and made up their minds prior to the presentation.

Another “kiss of death” is the committee’s conclusion, “We don’t need that”. Upon presentation of a marketing strategy for a high-tech product manufacturer, the Sales Manager objected with, “We don’t need all that, just list our spec’s.” He assumed that the market had the same level of technological knowledge as he, and everyone would recognize the superiority of their product by the specifications alone. Another example has been management or staff who are reluctant to make any changes in their marketing for fear, that success of a new approach, may expose that they were not doing their job.

So, how can a marketer get the most out of a professional marketing campaign presentation? First, pool staff to get a consensus of expectations, before you consult with a Marketing Consultant. Communicate their collective input along with your objectives to the marketing professional. Be candid and honest about your companies’ sales, successes, limitations, problems and concerns. There will be less resistance by staff and committee if they feel their voices have been heard.  Then step back and allow the Marketing Consultant unhindered creative freedom to present their strategy as a comprehensive marketing campaign. Be opened minded to new ideas, ask questions but understand that you hired a marketing professional for their expertise, so respect their efforts.