The magic of leapfrog

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Adam Rumwiede
Adam Rumwiede
Leapfrog. It's a children's game and also the burning desire of every marketer: How do you tap the power of innovation to propel the business past leaders who dominate the category? With client expectations higher than ever, that's the challenge presented by today's aggressive response, engagement, conversion and efficiency standards.

A great ad, PR or media idea can have a significant impact on business. Successfully leapfrogging the competition requires alignment of resources with a great idea. To develop successful multichannel campaigns, some creativity is required before the development of the creative; you must look before you leap.

So, where to begin?

Start with Communications Planning (CP). CP focuses on solving clients' marketing problems and growing business while leveraging whatever communications resource is deemed necessary. CP shifts the emphasis from delivering messages to mass audiences towards understanding how people receive and respond to marketing communications. An essential part of the process, CP clearly defines the source of growth.

Don't mistake tactics for strategy. Taking a cue from Strategy is the utilization, during both peace and war, of all of a nation's forces, through large-scale, long-range planning and development, to ensure security or victory. Tactics deal with the use and deployment of troops in actual combat. The correlation to marketing communications is clear. I've often proposed that we separate strategic brand planning from the annual tactical media planning and implementation process. Too often strategic planning is shortchanged for tactical planning when the two are combined.

Know the customer — better. What are the various ways they can be segmented? What does the purchase pathway look like? What influences purchase behavior? Probing these dynamics sheds light on how to use individual channels to influence behavior. Given the corporate distractions that exist, marketing partners have a responsibility to represent the customer, their needs and desires within the organization.

Search for real insights. Relevant insights emerge from examining the consumer, the brand, competitors or the market itself. They sometimes come to light when existing data is reviewed from a new direction. An insight is not a statement of the obvious truth; an insight changes the way we look at a given paradigm, and insights must be actionable and relevant. Dove's Real Beauty campaign emerged from an insight that fundamentally changed the way Dove viewed and operated in the market. Good insights are hard to find. Cherish them.


Strategize with a clean slate. Put everything on the table. This is hard to do, but it is a must for the team to freely consider different, unique and innovative approaches. The team can't be wed to a 30-second ad or the expensive NASCAR sponsorship with 2 years left on the contract. Save those as issues to navigate once you create the brand's blue ocean. Think holistically about communication solutions that span the range of paid, earned and owned media alike.

Be receptive to ideas. Ideas are the currency of our future. Successful integrated campaigns are organized around a strong idea, not an ad concept or sponsorship. Good ideas can come from any direction/discipline. Question everything, especially authority.

To be successful at leapfrog, look before you leap, and listen to the child within.

Adam Krumwiede is an Executive Vice President at Gotham Direct Inc. in New York.

DMNotes is DMN's around-the-clock blog. Yes, a blog in 2016.

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