"How do you like the draft of the new brochure?" asks the boss.
There are several responses available to you, in order of wonderfulness:
- It's great.
- There's a typo here on page 2.
- What if we changed the size of the headline?
- Are you open to considering different typefaces and colors?
- Where are you going to distribute this?
- Why use a brochure? Couldn't we spend the same money more effectively?
Where are you on this scale?
You could hire a brilliant graphic designer to take your bullet-filled powerpoint and fix the fonts and clean it up. But would it change the game?
When in doubt, challenge the strategy, not the tactics.
Simple example of thinking bigger: What if you hired Jill Greenberg to Photoshop well-known people in your industry to turn them into memorable images instead?
Every day you have the chance to completely reimagine what it is to communicate via Powerpoint. What Marc Andreessen has done is to completely reimagine what it is to be online. That's where the win lies, when you reinvent.
The bigger point is that none of us are doing enough to challenge the assignment. Every day, I spend at least an hour of my time looking at my work and what I've chosen to do next and wonder, "is this big enough?"
Yesterday, I was sitting with a friend who runs a small training company. He asked, "I need better promotion. How do I get more people to take the professional type design course I offer at my office?" My answer was a question, as it usually is. "Why is the course at your office?" and then, "Why is it a course and not accreditation, or why not turn it into a guild for job seekers, where you could train people and use part of the tuition to hire someone to organize a private job board? You could guarantee clients well-trained students (no bozos) and you could guarantee students better jobs... everyone wins."
I have no idea if my idea for the training company is a good one, but I know it's a bigger one. That's when marketing pays for itself. Not when we find a typo or redesign a logo, but when we reconsider the question and turn the answer into something bigger than we ever expected.