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The Leap and the Logic behind Client Wins and the 4A’s Strategy Festival

Our public relations team caught up with our own principal of strategy, Andrew Wood, to talk about what he learned at the 4A’s Strategy Festival. The Strategy Festival brings together more than 300 strategists in the advertising business. This year’s theme was “Data and Humanity: Planning Redefined.”

a headshot of andrew wood with a quote that reads We inspire clients by bringing them real insights. By that, i mean, insights born of trying to solve real business problems that challenge conventions or change status quo

Hi Andrew Wood! You just got back from the 4A’s Strategy Festival. Talk about an insight from the event.

We were reminded early on that, when all is said and done, strategy is all about giving clients a future competitive advantage. Often that advantage means helping clients step outside their comfort zone. Michael Fanuele, CEO of Talk Like Music, captured it nicely when he said “be the leap, not the logic.” Be the creative energy in the strategy process.

That’s a great phrase – “Be the leap, not the logic.” What is one way that Mintz + Hoke encourages clients to take a leap?

Everybody needs some encouragement or permission to take a leap. We inspire clients by bringing them real insights. By that, I mean, insights born of trying to solve real business problems. We give clients a different way to look at a problem that challenges current convention or changes the status quo. Thinking that demonstrates the real business potential of taking a leap. We want to make it easier to take that leap of faith – we try to make it a step. Great insights can inspire not just marketing but an entire organization.

What were your goals for attending this conference?

I go to conferences like this to keep learning new ideas that we can adapt for our clients, stress test our current approaches and accept the proverbial kick-in-the-bum if needed. It’s about continually getting better. Often it’s incremental, sometimes it’s a big change, but it’s always about getting better.

The theme of the conference was “new frontier in planning, where data and human insight come together.” How did data and human insight come together at this conference? What makes data meaningful?

Data shows what people do, but it doesn’t show why people do it. Lots of resources inform strategic planning. Like BBDO’s Creative Director David Lubars says, you’ve got to be comfortable in chaos to be a strategic planner. You’ve got to be okay with mess. Strategic planning gathers all the input possible and puts it all on the wall and stress tests it to disclose a real insight. The conference showed how hard this is for big agencies. The trick is to blend data and human insight. One inspires the other. The nimbleness of small agencies brings real benefits because people work together more naturally.

Data and human insight are an important hybrid, and increasingly so. Can you talk about how Mintz + Hoke utilizes data and human insight?

Since we were founded 46 years ago, we’ve had the philosophy that it’s important to get out of the office and into people’s heads and hearts. We’re a feisty, small agency that always wants to give our clients that edge. Now data can quickly confirm the efficacy of that edge.

What’s the biggest takeaway from the conference?

We’ve got to stay dedicated to understanding how emotions drive behavior and purchases so that we can give our clients a competitive advantage in all the work they do. We need to grab every new channel of information to make our input the most intelligent. And that’s what data can do. We help our clients take a leap, but we also exert logic and exploit the emotion. Data is powerful and really helps us, but it doesn’t have a soul. We are in the soul business. We don’t do easy. We do messy, complicated work. And we exert logic to calculate fervent leaps that will help clients win.

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