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Zig When Others Zag
By: Andy Weiss
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
 
Client: “We want a Facebook program.”
Agency: “Why?”
Client: “Because there are a lot of people on Facebook and all our competitors are there.”
 
Having a lot of people in one place does not make good strategy. Sure, it helps with execution and scale, but it’s not the strategy. It is the channel. And just because the competition is doing something in the channel does not mean you have to as well. More often than not, it pays to take a step backwards to clearly identify the objective and the desired outcome. Then it’s time to zig.
 
What does it mean to zig? Simply put, it’s doing something different. Something unexpected. If the goal is to get from Point A (the current state) to Point B (the desired outcome), then zigging is how you get there. Yes, the quickest route is a straight line, but fast is not always the best…just ask The Hare. While the straight line (building that Facebook program for the client above) may also be the safest path, it may not break through the clutter to move the needle, meet the objective, or win any accolades. Why? Because the competition has gone the same route and the path is well worn. While we like to think otherwise, agencies are great claiming to be untraditional, but we often follow and knock-off each other. Take a look at your Facebook or Twitter feeds and see how many brands are doing the same or similar things.
 
It’s time to heed the guidance of Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society and stand up on the desk to look at things in a different way. From that vantage point, it is much easier to shake the norms and find an uncharted path. It could be baby steps like giving a presentation without PowerPoint (or even Prezi). Doing so may better reflect the passion and energy of the content and freeing them from being words on slides. Or maybe it’s executing a B2B program with Hashable instead of LinkedIn. The point is that this exercise and practice should be liberating and energizing. And because it is grounded in the objective and the desired outcome, it hopefully will free you from chasing the next shiny new digital object like everyone else and enable you unleash ideas that are even more breakthrough.
 
So go defy convention.


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About the Author
Andy Weiss is a digital direct marketer, consumer evangelist, change agent, and cultural anthropologist.
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