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Wow, that’s a big sofa.

The year spent within the Marketing Academy provides a series of one day Faculty Days, concentrating on a specific discipline – be it search, branding, digital or social media. The training days are designed as a skill based event, quite aside from all the pondering about the bigger question of our life as a marketeer.

They’re useful and invariably involve Masha, one of the scholars, having to raise her hand as being the only person in the room without a smartphone.

Last week we attended a day at the new Google offices. By god, they’re swanky. I don’t think they suffer the same teaspoon shortages that the rest of us endure.

Amongst a fair few sessions on just how awesome Google products are, we did a fantastic session on insight & planning in brainstorms. We were briefed to come up with ways for Google to sell in their products to agencies during the Olympics, but rather than set us the task title and ask us to come back a few hours later, we were taken through their process in clearly defined stages.

They were roughly as follows:

  • Get some insights. About a dozen per group. Get the laptops out. Use the Google tools (of course). e.g. in the last seven days more people are searching for ‘Olympic traffic problems’. I found a rise in searches for Tom Daley’s bulge.
  • Sum these up with four or five hunches, written in the first person. ‘I am worried about how to get to work during the Olympics’. ‘I would like to see the crotch of a 17 year old boy’. Erm… maybe not that one.
  • Come up with two or three ideas based on these hunches. Draw them up, but only when the idea is strong in your minds. Don’t put pen to paper until you’re finished talking through the idea.
  • Present just one of them.

Whilst the insight process was certainly nothing new, it was great to see a method that could keep a team disciplined. The steps of the process were kept very distinct; there was little room for skipping to the end. It is always easy, especially in brainstorming sessions, to jump ahead to an idea without first considering the research and insight. While I’m a big fan of a quick fire brainstorm session, this Google method will certainly be one I use with teams in the future. It has it’s time and place. After all, there’s nothing worse than a brainstorm kicking off with the words “Now, what does everyone think we should do for this project…”

One of my favourite planners in the world, Dare’s Nick Emmel, runs fantastic brainstorm sessions based on starting every sentence with ‘I Wish We Could…’. They were always great fun, and truly optimistic about the brand in question.

Did I steal anything from the Google offices? Yes, a box of TicTacs.



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