Prototype more. Theorize less.

The best inspiration can often come from outside your own industry. It was with this in mind that on the second day of SXSW, I attended "The Future of Making" session, featuring the CEO of IDEO, Tim Brown, and the director of the MIT Media Lab and angel investor, Joi Ito.

The best inspiration can often come from outside your own industry. It was with this in mind that on the second day of SXSW, I attended "The Future of Making" session, featuring the CEO of IDEO, Tim Brown, and the director of the MIT Media Lab and angel investor, Joi Ito.

The two discussed the future of product development, and I thought one theme translated particularly well to marketing and communications. Ito said one of the biggest shifts in product design is the ability to rapidly prototype devices as complex as smartphones in a cost-effective way. In a matter of days, designers can literally create new iterations of smartphones that take into account feedback from testing.

This changes the production process significantly because now we learn more by actually making things and testing them out. We spend far less time planning and theorizing because it’s so easy to just try out new ideas.

So what does this mean for marketers? Stop talking about ideas, particularly content ideas, and just create them. By the time you’ve spent four weeks doing storyboards, script development, testing, production design, and everything else, you could have probably shot and produced the whole concept.  

Spontaneous content creation is done by many artists already, one of my personal favorites being Casey Neistat. While Casey does pre-plan a lot of his videos, many are simply the result of serendipity or a simple idea, a camera with him at all times and a unique voice – check out The Jeep Incident as a good example.

Many brands and agencies are already focusing on creating real-time content for social media (quick graphics or videos), but let’s expand that concept to larger pieces of content as well that would normally require heavy pre-planning. Start by finding or training someone who can generate content that’s true to the brand voice, and empower them to just create. You can then pick and choose from a wide variety of pieces to publish. Not everything will hit the target, but at least there are real pieces of content to react to.

Prototype more. Theorize less.

Tony Lederer is SVP of the Digital Innovation Group at Cohn & Wolfe.

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