When I was little (yes, here we go again with a personal anecdote), I used to beg my dad to take me to the library. Each time my mom had a “girls night” party at our house, my dad and I would hop into the ’93 Infiniti and head to the wealth of knowledge known as the public library. At the time, I never realized that this was all just part of my dad’s ploy to make me a genius while simultaneously escaping the frenzy of screaming middle-aged menopause, but I digress…
I would leap onto the brick pathway, scaling the wall like a spider monkey (I was a weird child if you haven’t picked that up yet), and after spending hours in the children’s section, I would check out at least 30 picture books. Usually, 28 of those 30 picture books were Curious George.
Curious George was a book I could relate to; first because I thought I was a spider monkey, and second because like George, I myself was curious. Also, my dad would occasionally wear a yellow hat (not really, but that would have made this story better).
Fast forward, and today in creative strategist we talked about account planning.
I am not an account planner. While I may have an obsession with plans and I use three different agendas each with increasing detail to map out my life, I want to be a writer. But the important message here is that the job title doesn’t matter.
To be a good advertiser, you need to be curious.
I first thought about curiosity during my Intel internship. Ironically enough, it was because we sponsored a television show on the Discovery Channel called “Curiosity”. They sent an announcement around about how we were sponsoring this new program, and I looked into it. One of the commercials that plays during this show is an interview with Genevieve Bell, Director of Interaction & Experience Research at Intel Corporation.
In this spot, she gives some great insight on what it means to be curious:
“Curiosity is what you can make people think about, and what you can make possible for them. Curiosity is not just about observing things; it’s about being changed by them.”
Before I discovered the show, I had never thought about how those ideas could play into advertising. Genevieve puts it all into perspective: “you have to know why people love the things that they already have to invent the next generation of things that they’re going to want”.
As WPP planning guru Jon Steel puts it,
“The key to success is understanding the basics of the human condition.”
It’s time to stop thinking about audiences and start thinking about individuals. If you are curious and truly engage with a consumer, then you will achieve unparalleled results. Take an interest in people, and they will reciprocate that interest.
So, how can you be curious? Be like George the monkey. Look at things from a childlike perspective. Ask yourself what makes people the way they are. Ask WHY. Collect things. Curate interesting.
It’s not always about the answer — sometimes you learn the most when you reflect on how you got there.