“We need concepts, but we don’t have enough money to start with research.  But we know the market and why they’ll buy.”  And so it goes.   And then it gets sporty. We’re going to tell the market that we have the best service, no no; tell them we have the best products, no no, it’s our low low prices; hell–let’s do ’em all, and everyone’s convinced that they know better than anyone else.

So now the agency is billing for multiple sets of boards on 2, 3, 4 concepts.  And if the shop is not billing, they’re eating the time and taking it from other clients. The problem and the drama come from everyone being absolutely positive they have the single best idea.  And we’re spending money and losing time.

But if doubts begin to seep in about not having bothered with the research, consider this.  There were two reasons I always had for getting some smarts up front.  The obvious one is that you learn something about the audience, what they want and what they’re hot buttons are.  The other one is that when research states what’s what and what should be done, all those voices on the edges get quieter. Without all the unqualified input, you spend less time developing the creative and getting approvals.  You spend less money.  I’m not kidding.  This really works.

But then, I’ve always had the benefit of having a cousin in the business. OK–not really my cousin, but somebody I could sit with and talk through the process.  That’s the key.  Working with someone you trust, knows what they’re doing and isn’t tied to making a sale.

Cousins in the business.