Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Ah-ha" versus "Uh-huh." You might be surprised at the moment of truth.

We've heard it before. "I was presenting the strategy to my leadership team and suddenly they had the "ah-ha" moment and got what I was saying." Or, "finally had that "ah-ha" moment and came up with a big creative idea!"

Call it what you will - "ah-ha" moments, "connecting the dots," or "putting the pieces together," they all imply a breakthrough in thinking or understanding. They can be the best of times and strike when you least expect them (and that's why we keep pens and paper on the nightstand). Or they can be the worst of times, and those are the ones you need to watch out for.

For example, you're presenting a brand strategy or ad campaign to your hospital's CEO. A good portion of your discussion is based on the market situation, competitive insights, brand landscape, communications objectives, and other great information. Then, the moment of truth. You transition from the comfort of facts to the translation of brand strategy or creative executions.

You think you want the "ah-ha" moment, but in truth, you might actually be better served with an "uh-huh" moment.

When the boss nods his head and exclaims, "ah-ha!" what he's probably saying is "you know, I was wondering where you were going this entire time and now I finally get it." Whereas the "uh-huh" response usually means "that makes sense based on the facts and data you've presented and the recommendations support these findings. I get it, and I agree."

(I hope those of you reading this are saying "uh-huh, yep, that makes sense.)

In typical advertising presentations, "ah-ha" moments typically follow the creative show. And, unfortunately, it's not because somebody has just presented a whopper of a big idea (so few and far between...). Rather, it's most likely because the strategy has been lost in translation either from the market insights or to the creative execution. So when the creative idea is flashed, it gets a big "ah-ha!" Because now the whole presentation sort of makes sense!

Your goal, however, as branders, marketers, and advertisers, should be the "uh-huh" moment when making a strategic or creative presentation. When you get that response, it means you've done the job of setting up the strategy, clearly describing it, and executing it in a way that tracks and reinforces the direction. Now, please don't take this as meaning the ideas - both strategic and creative - have to be boring and that equates with an "uh-huh" reply. In fact, you have a better chance of selling the big idea if you've made your case and the creative pays off the strategy, and the strategy pays off the marketing insights. When you achieve this, "uh-huh" can be the best reaction you can get!

In the branding and communications business, we're often taught that "ah-ha" moments are when the light bulbs flash. And that's true, but when you're creating and selling an entire branding campaign, you don't want the bulbs to flash too bright when you unveil the big idea. A confident glow of "uh-huh" means you've done an effective job setting up the situation, translating a strategy, and executing an idea.

Make sense? Uh-huh!


Anthony Cirillo said...

Hey I get it. Actually it makes great career sense to make people understand that you get it. Because unfortunately the marketing brand in many organizations is not always associated with the word strategic so the more you can show that the better.

Anthony Cirillo said...

Oh one more thing - got it?

Rob Rosenberg said...

Uh-huh! Thanks for your comment.

brandinnovator said...

Good stuff, Rob. Creating the Ah-Ha! moments has been ever more critical in tough times. I believe that true innovation can continue to guide us and that means great communication and a lot of Ah-Ha! moments. Followed by your Uh-Huh moments when encapsulating new directions, making the complex simple, and the surprising obvious.

We need great storytellers and intuitive analysts, new thinking, and constant reframing. It’s time to reframe the creativity of coming up with new ideas to the innovation of making them happen.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Anonymous said...