New thinking for ad agency new business, part one

Are you familiar with IDEO? I wasn’t until about two years ago. They have carved out the thought leader position when it comes to innovation, product development and capital “D” Design. Last week there was a story in Fast Company you should check out.

Now, from what I’ve been able to gather, IDEO has developed some sort of deeper, broader relationship with FastCompany. Very smart, that. And while that alone is worth studying, there was a lot of smart new business thinking in this particular story that’s worth calling to your attention:

  • Shows yet another example of how agencies can get into the product development business.
  • Demonstrates the agency’s understanding of a particular consumer segment and lifestage (in this case, childbirth). Imagine how IDEO can use this story with the Gerbers of the world.
  • Screams their firm’s bigger picture: they innovate.
  • Easy to read and pass along.

Finally, I think this story could perhaps bring us another lesson: lead with the outcome. Most agencies lead with their insights and then their work – they show ads, events, promotion components, etc. Consider, instead, focusing more on what the work did or can do. In the IDEO story, the picture of a man giving up a seat for a pregnant woman wearing Ideo’s latest innovation is an outcome. It is no accident that the picture in the story is larger than the new product itself. The picture alone demonstrates insights around childbirth.

Other leaders in our business lead with the outcome. Check out Crispin’s site. Here’s their home page. It’s changed a bit over time, but look at how they offer the visitor glimpses into how consumers are talking and reacting to their work. Said another way, that’s buzz.

What, you say you’re not IDEO or Crispin? You can still lead with the outcome. Consider thinking in terms of what your work did: increased consumer transactions (more or bigger)… gave Mom a little more “me” time… or, created a happy client. There are ways to dramatize or focus on effect rather than the cause (your work). Of course, we’re also talking about results. And if you got ’em, by all means, tell us. But consider leading with a more emotionally compelling and interesting way to bring us into what you did to solve a problem.

What else is interesting about this story, and how might it be used in your new business efforts? Feel free to share or call me to chat about it. And thanks!