Adrian Ho made an insightful observation yesterday on his Zeus Jones blog (Does anyone else type “blob” accidently?) about the different marketing functions of strategy and production.
He wrote “There are, of course, fairly significant business-model barriers in bringing together these two different kinds of skills in a company. Production skills are often billed on an hourly basis, while strategy is typically priced based upon value. However, I think that the more difficult barriers are cultural. These two archetypes have historically been polar opposites and simply putting together people who embody one aspect with people who embody the other is a recipe for disaster.”
Mr. Ho is focused, I suspect, on digital production in his piece because he discusses social media but this strategy and production yin-yang (pronounced yong) extends to all customized creative forms. It’s the reason account planning was developed in the advertising world.
I’m working with a jewelry manufacturer who creates custom pieces. The model maker rarely sees the customer. The input for the piece is handled by a designer who gathers from the customers: pictures from magazines, drawings, descriptions and memories, all of which are put into a little bag with some notes and sent into the back room. Producer-strategist.
The companies with the ability to translate strategy into elegant, compelling production create the best work. When trying to determine good marketing partners from bad, the questions one should ask should relate to this very process, but most don’t ask about the nexus of strategy and production. They ask “Tell me about your strategic process” or “May I see your work?” Frankly, the magic happens in the hand-off. In the case of the jewelry company you need to see what’s in the bag.