Commentary

Our Most Underused Resource: Intuition

As marketers, we have many tools that go into the creation of a compelling campaign. We read up on the latest market research and trends. We surround ourselves with a team of educated, experienced, and driven professionals. We look at our competitors to see what strategies they are using and which are most effective. However, there is one tool that is critical to every brand’s success, though it is oftentimes the most underused resource in our arsenal: our intuition.  

Intuition is one of the most powerful resources we are given. It is startling to realize — in business meetings — how listening to our natural gut instinct has been replaced with formulaic research, analysis, and number crunching. Strong marketing is a combination of having a great idea, doing the research, and ultimately following your gut. In a society so focused on numbers and data, how can we capitalize on our intuition? Below are three basic tips to get you started: 

1. Don’t let fear run the show. When you come from a place of fear—worrying about a campaign and making sure not to ruffle any feathers—you miss out on making something truly memorable. Being in this business can be overwhelming, and the pressure of deadlines forces you to look at short-term results. Fearing failure will keep you trapped in familiar strategies, and though they “work,” they can cause a brand to lose its spark. Hence, when starting on a new project, try asking yourself “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” What could really skyrocket this brand to a whole new level of success? What’s something we have not tried before? Don’t worry about what your colleagues will say; there is no such thing as a bad idea. You can always crunch the numbers, set up focus groups, or read the research later. But first, we recommend starting from a place of “anything is possible.”

2. Take Risks. As Bob Haas, chairman emeritus of Levi Strauss & Co., once said to our strategy director, "Create programs that have never been done before and it's okay if one fails ... then I'll know you pushed your limit, and trusted yourself to take some risks." In every area of life, leaders have always taken risks to achieve success. The same goes for marketing professionals. Some risks are small—such as taking on a client in a slightly different vertical or trying a new type of digital strategy that you have never done before. Other risks are larger, like redesigning an entire brand concept from logo to messaging or going after an entirely new target demographic. Over time, both brands and society change. Fifty years ago there was no such thing as “digital.” Today, brands are launching entire campaigns through YouTube viral videos. Taking smart risks is key to long-term growth and success.  

3. Trust Yourself. We need to re-learn how to listen to our own belief system. At our agency, when we allow our intuition to drive creativity, we say we are “cooking with gas.” Sometimes you just know it – not because you read a white paper on it, or asked 30 co-workers, or because you tested the concept six ways from Sunday, but because you have a creative spark inside of you. Before making decisions, in the workplace or otherwise, take a moment to check in with yourself, with that inner voice that has been quietly guiding you all along.

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3 comments about "Our Most Underused Resource: Intuition".
  1. Sandra Dempsey from ESPN Deportes 1510 AM , February 19, 2014 at 10:19 a.m.
    I agree with the concept of allowing our intuition to be a great resource, often forgotten and unused. It is almost as if we try not to use it because it sounds too "out there" it is not technical and very subjective. There are times when you "Just Know It" and that is your intuition telling you what to do. The question is... How often do we push our intuition to the side because we think that an analysis/data report/opinions and more are more relevant than our own gut?
  2. Gray Hammond from Quire , February 19, 2014 at 12:17 p.m.
    If only clients would learn your points #1 and #2 ...
  3. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct , February 19, 2014 at 4:50 p.m.
    I'm a huge believer in intuition...but that belief needs to be tempered with the awareness that intuition will be wrong 35% to 40% of the time. In our work, intuition co-exists with powerful data, research, past experience, and constant listening. This post lost me at item 3. In a fresh situation, our belief systems are flawed and need to be re-envisioned for that new situation. Far too much creative work is envisioned based on experience that doesn't apply to the current world. (It's a sad epidemic in agencies - that creatives think they can take on anything.) So great article & absolutely important. But important to be cautioned trust in intuition.