Bernard Asselin, president of Bleublancrouge, shared his back to basics marketing strategies with a room full of attentive newspaper delegates on May 2 during the INK+BEYOND newspaper conference in Ottawa. The multi-media driven presentation kept those in attendance engaged, with Asselin stopping periodically to ask questions and keep the audience thinking throughout the session.
The focus of Asselin’s address was on innovation culture and how innovation is really a process–the sum of all the tiny discoveries made–qualitative in its research and the opposite of logical.
“It is organic and it will take you as far as you want or can,” said Asselin. “We can all be creative but the real innovation is the end result of that; innovation is what comes out of creativity.”
Asselin spoke about an innovation dichotomy in which the three sides, stability, uncertainty and risk—with audacity sitting in the middle of the three—can only be combined to begin the recipe for innovation once you have the guts to step outside the lines.
Drawing comparisons to Edison’s invention of the light bulb despite his fear of the dark, Asselin said that it is the nature of fear that forces us to do things and you just have to keep pushing through with self esteem and a plan.
“As long as you have a plan, if you don’t have a plan you’ve missed the parade,” said Asselin. He asserted that newspapers are not missing the parade and believes they foster a certain level of innovation already.
“When you’re starting from scratch to produce something new everyday, that’s innovation because you don’t know where you’re going, don’t know what’s going to happen, except there’s a time constraint.”
Asselin quickly acknowledged the challenge faced by those trying to get things done on daily deadlines, but stated that creatively it wont work and you need to listen instead to the consumer audience. He went on to explain—with the help of a video—that creativity is not inspired by time and innovation doesn’t speed.
The creative expert explained that in today’s fragmented media landscape, newspapers cannot subscribe to a one-size-fits-all model, or ‘all-you-can-app.’ He challenged delegates to take a step back and really analyze the state of their organization and whether or not it fosters innovation and creativity. “Is it still like a big symphony orchestra, when today’s consumers want a flexible jazz quartet that can change tunes, change instruments and go somewhere else?”
Knowing what readers want and adjusting strategies accordingly is a major component to the recipe for successful marketing, whether it be using data to determine what they are reading or changing the creative process behind the paper’s photography and the headline to hold eyes on a page.
Equally as integral to the recipe, is making room for the contribution of your employees, said Asselin, as innovation lies within tons of small ideas. He encouraged news organizations to reevaluate the division of time and efforts into three categories: destruction, preservation and creation.
Changing processes through re-sourcing and re-organizing, improving the current and creating new innovative ideas can all be achieved with the help of open minds. You will need people on your team who are willing to take steps out of the comfort zone. Innovation will flourish when you are bold enough to come up with ideas to challenge the way you make decisions and dare to go against the status quo.