Start with an end in mind but don’t worry about how you get there

Let’s start with the most basic principle of all. We’re all in business. Whatever your role, the best advertising doesn’t just change how people think; it has to get someone to do something. By not considering such outcomes, creativity becomes meaningless. It doesn’t matter how much coverage you get, advertising has to improve the bottom line.

We may have been liberated by technology to devise multiple messages but we still need the ‘clear vision and focus’ that was one of the original shared beliefs. Every activity should start with a specific end in mind. The business outcome.

People’s responses to our work must constantly be intertwined with that commercial sensibility. How we get there – in terms of the multiple capabilities we now possess – has never been more exciting. There’s no end to where the advertising can take you. But the goal has to be to positively influence behaviours. To get people to do something.

If you’re not focused on the end you want to achieve, you won’t be focused on your audience and what it wants from your brand

People are inundated with so many marketing messages that it’s convenient to plan multiple ends and multiple business strategies. That way disaster lies. If you’re not focused on the end you want to achieve, you won’t be focused on your audience and what it wants from your brand. Having an end in mind means no matter how circuitous the route to get there, the journey will be a profitable one.

Creatively, you don’t have to know exactly the end point for a specific campaign. That’s something you might shape, learn and express in different ways and on different channels. Advertising isn’t a mechanistic process but a voyage of discovery, in which you don’t know for sure who’s going to engage and how, and whether behaviours will be changed.

If you start with many business ends in mind you’re not being clear enough. Ultimately brands are there to help consumers define choice, and if you’re confused about choices you want them to make and what business you’re trying to build, reach will suffer.

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