Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

#AdobeSummit blog: Why you should stop knee-jerk reactions in #digitalmarketing 

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Disclaimer: Adobe invited me to the Adobe Summit North America 2017. This post was not approved by them. They didn’t even get a preview. It’s my opinion and if you agree it’s yours too. 😂🤔

I’ve basically made a career coming up with new ideas and then implementing them. Most of my last few gigs have been change agent-type work. Some call it growth hacking even. Sometimes things worked and sometimes they didn’t. Either way, everything is a learning experience. Some later projects worked because I remembered another similar project’s reason for failure.

And ideas – especially the wild ones – get a bad rep from marketing and communication leaders. “That’s too out there. We need results yesterday!”

When I was at the Adobe Summit North America 2017 in Las Vegas I was able to attend Adam Morgan’s session on “Return on Ideas.”

Adam is senior director of creative at Adobe and wrote a book on the topic, which I will link to if I find the link. 😱😊

His session was awesome ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for sure. Let’s discuss the approval process he shared. 

Let’s start at the current state. How are creative ideas often judged?


Many people – including CMOs and other leaders – have their own checklists prepared mentally. Many decisions are knee jerk. Even if we claim they aren’t.

  • See creative 
  • React to creative 
  • Voice opinion 

The process takes seconds. Let’s not forget  how the creation took in comparison. And often things are based on personal preferences. Adam put the the process in this terminology:

  1. Listen 
  2. Internal checklist of what’s needed
  3. Decision 

The highest title wins! Why am I in this meeting again? 😑 

And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m super likely to do this myself if I’m not aware. Let’s make a decision already, people! Now! #done Next!

Of course, when we aren’t aware of the downfalls of this or are even aware of it as a whole, we can’t change. The biggest downfall likely is that we didn’t think it through enough or at all. This isn’t a street fight where we have to act right now!

Adam suggests that instead of that process we follow this process:

  • Listen 
  • Checklist 
  • Incubation
  • Decision 

That means that after leaders review an idea, they step away.  Similar: Think judges. They don’t make a decision on the spot either. 👍🤔

Of course, that presents some other challenges too:

  • In-the-moment reactions do offer insight on how people might react. 
  • We put all this work into a project and now we don’t get feedback? Ugh. 
  • Incubation and forgetting about it are related and the one can easily lead to the other. That’s not good either. 

But I’ve (accidentally) used this process before and let me tell you it works. We have the best ideas when we just spend some thinking time.

Thinking time can be more important than doing time. 

Here’s how I would recommend the implementation:

  • Set creative strategy 
  • Check in during creation 
  • Presentation without decisions
  • Set follow-up meeting not too far out but also not too close 
  • Have meeting and discuss 
  • Next steps 
  • Successful launch 

This is obviously a simplified version as they are more steps in between, but conceptually speaking. 

It was great to get this reminder. Ideas  💡 are what moves us forward. Innovation can only happen with new, newish or spin-off ideas. Let incubate on that. 


Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I'm Christoph Trappe and I'm the Vice President of Content Marketing Strategy, Americas, at ScribbleLive, which is based in Toronto and is a global content marketing software company. Before I started at ScribbleLive I was VP of Content Marketing and Conversion at MedTouch, a Boston-based company that helps healthcare organizations with digital marketing. I've written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs. If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I'm always happy to chat! Thanks for reading! - Christoph ctrappe@christophtrappe.com 319-389-9853

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