This week, I attended the Event Marketer EventTech conference in Las Vegas and was inspired by a session from Makers Mark Stewart and Mark Harrison. After listening to them discuss their creative process during “What Event Marketers Can Learn from the Maker Movement,” I began to think about how the DIY Maker philosophy can be applied to the agency environment.
FAIL LIKE A 12 YEAR OLD
First, a little about me. My dad was a shop teacher. So, when I was growing up, there were always nails, hammers, saws and wood lying around our garage.
I vividly remember spending hours banging pieces of wood together in attempts to make the perfect rubber band gun. The initial attempt was completely wrong, not well thought out and poorly executed.
However, I learned valuable lessons from that failure. I found that the piece of wood was too long, it needed a trigger mechanism (this turned out to be clothes pin affixed to the top with wood glue), a sight, a place to store additional rubber bands, etc. And so I tried again.
There must have been at least 10 prototypes before I got it right and was able to repeatedly shoot rubber bands at my unsuspecting younger brother.
I was a Maker when I was 12! I embodied the idea of “try, fail fast, and try again” at that time in my life. I was prototyping, failing, changing it up and trying to actually build things again and again until I got it right. In the end, the rubber band gun wasn’t pretty, but it did what it was supposed to do, and it did it well.
LEARNING THE MAKER WAY
So how does the Maker approach apply to project planning and execution at a creative agency?
Often, we find ourselves trying to plan out the absolute perfect experience for a given client/project and then work to flawlessly execute the approved idea. Maybe it’s time to rethink this strategy. Maybe a little Maker thinking will change how we approach our projects.
Maker philosophy is all about actually using your hands and putting things together and seeing what happens by utilizing a lot of small, real-world experiments on the way to the final idea.
Step 1. Quickly prototype a bunch of ideas instead of trying to hash out the perfect idea.
This can be done, even in an agency environment, by brainstorming these ideas, seeing how they might work in the real world, trying again and again to make them better, and then seeing how the ideas work again in the next revision.
It can also be part of the client onboarding by using quick ideas to raise the stakes for the client and get them vested in the concept up front.
Step 2. Refine the idea that works and plan the execution process.
It must be noted that for agencies, this planning will be based upon an idea that has already been vetted both creatively and functionally (even if only on a very crude level).
Step 3. Once there is a great working idea, the final step to dress it up, put on the polish and get it out there!
This type of thinking also allows for more freedom to give the crazy/out-of-the-box ideas a quick test-drive with minimal involvement.
Applying a little Maker thinking might be worth a try — it’ll most likely be fun, and it will almost certainly yield unexpected results. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.
Images are from”What Event Marketers Can Learn from the Maker Movement.” For more on how to turn the Maker movement into “Maketing,” check out Stewart and Harrison’s EventTech presentation: