A colleague, who I once had the good fortune to work with, had a peculiar decision-making quirk.
Any and every decision was taken in the context of ‘what the competition is doing’! Be that crafting a strategy, participation in a show, a new advertisement, presentations, new brochures etc. Competitors were the benchmark of his professional life.
Now these benchmarks can be beneficial to a degree, but are extremely restricting and non-creative at many levels. The yarn you knit should not tie you up in knots!
Another colleague I know, leaves his decisions to the last minute, thinking that the deadline will let him arrive at the most intuitive conclusion! He is probably unaware that ordinary intuition and strategic intuition sit on two opposite poles and expert intuition sits somewhere in between.
Moreover, as per Columbia Business School professor William Duggan, expert intuition can be the enemy of strategic intuition.
Now, why does decision making has to be so illogical and restricting?
Gretchen Rubin sums up the difference between two types of decision-makers in a post at the Happiness Project.
‘Satisficers’ are those who make a decision or take action once their criteria are met. That doesn’t mean they’ll settle for mediocrity; their criteria can be very high; but as soon as they find the car, the hotel, or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied.
‘Maximizers’, on the other hand, want to make the optimal decision. So even if they see a bicycle or a photographer that would seem to meet their requirements, they can’t make a decision until after they’ve examined every option, so they know they’re making the best possible choice.
In a fascinating book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz argues that satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers must spend a lot more time and energy to reach a decision, and they are often anxious about whether they are, in fact, making the best choice.
You’d think maximizers would at least feel content with their decision after all that work, but no! As anyone who’s ever researched a possible illness on the Internet knows, more information does not necessarily lead to peace of mind or better decision-making.
So, when you are in the land of a thousand communication agencies, how do you choose one?
Some people let the budget (or the absence of it) make a decision for them. Nothing could be worse for your brand.
Here are some broad parameters;
The agency knows about your subject matter and has sufficient knowledge about the same. They understand your Target Audience and have worked with them in the past.
Now, this can work both ways. The experience they bring to the table can be offset by the fresh perspective someone else can offer. The main yardstick should be that they understand you and the parameters you operate within & are innovative. In that case, look no further.
They understand branding and communication as a field and have a certain expertise in the area.
This can be ratified via myriad ways in the exposed society that we live in today.
They are willing to work with you in the long term and invest quality time to build up your brand. They feel your (brand) pain.
This is essential, as the empathy one feels for a brand translates into an enormous motivator for them to make a phenomenal difference. They (and not you) own the brand and will bleed for it.
Brands are not built in days or months, but years; and once they are established they need to be nurtured to last over many decades.
How the paradox of choice will unravel for your brand, that choice is yours!