Velocity: Nike’s 7 new laws for a digital world POST 2

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 15.14.10This is the 2nd post about this book by Nike's Stefan Olander, VP of "Digital Sport" for Nike. This post is about universal marketing principles relevant to any business, digital or otherwise.

1. Hone your intuition

Stefan tells a story about his third day at Nike working a an advertising manager for the Nordics. Ge was shown by his marketing director seven different shots for a campaign promoting womens' fitness products. "Two of these shots are perfect; the other five suck," said the marketing director.  Which are they?". 

Stefan gave it his best shot, got one right and kept his job! He was then given a full run-down on why the two shots selected "embodied what we stood for as a brand". He goes on to comment, "This was the first of thousand of references I have gained over 15 years from listening to Nike people. The sum total has helped me hone my intuition".

Here you have an explanation to why Nike famously avoid testing any advertising. They use instead the highly tuned "hit detectors" of the people leading the business. 

This reminds me of my first few months at P&G. There was no need for lengthy and costly training courses on "The P&G Way". Rather, in every meeting to review creative work (pack, product, promotion, advertising etc.) two things happened. First, as the most junior person, I commented first. Second, after the meeting my Brand Manager took time to coach me on what went well, and what to improve.

The Nike approach requires a huge investment in time and talent to coach and mentor people, and also requires good levels of staff retention. The big advantages are speed of execution, and also coming up with bold marketing that doesn't have to endure rounds of research.

2. "Don't understand the consumer, BE the consumer".

This was a call to action in another post from back in 2006. In the post I quoted the example of Nike applied this in their business, helping them act on intuition as described above: "Nike's policy is only hiring people active in sports. And by active, I don't mean watching every match in the 6 Nations rugby from the comfort of your couch, like yours truly. No, active means taking part and being really into the sport." 

Here's Stefan describing this approach in his own words:

"I don't understand when somebody comes in to present and idea and says, 'Well, you know, I'm not the target audience.' What do you mean? You should be! You should know more than anyone else about this stuff, and nobody should be more passionate about it."

3. "Have the balls to make the calls"

What a great quote. Stefan is referring here to leaders who actually lead, and don't just manage. They know when to step in, take control and be brave enough to make big, bold decisions. This allows an organisation can move forward at speed and not get bogged down in endless committee meetings. I also like the idea that leadership is something you earn over time through experience: "The true, innate ability to make a great call is something that is conferred on your gradually, and it's also something you get the confidence to assert more as you gain experience."

An example of making a great call is the split second decision of the Captain of US Airways flight 1549 to take the controls of the plane when it lost thrust in both engines, after running into a flock of geese. He's the pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson river in New York, saving all the passengers on board. Right after the bird strike the on-board cockpit recording captures the Captain simply and calmly saying: "My aircraft."

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 16.40.30
In conclusion, Velocity has some great insights into creating new, digitally powered services for your brand. But it also has some hidden gems about the fundamentals of honing your intuition, being the consumer and earning the right to lead a business, and say "My aircraft" at the moment of truth.