Phone your Mum
Getting a perspective from someone who has nothing to do with your industry can reap great benefits.
Have you ever had the feeling that you're not seeing the bleedin' obvious?
Those times when you're too fixated on something, or too bogged down in your process? The feeling that you're not viewing the problem from the right angle? That you've missed something?
That's when I phone my mum.
Mum has nothing to do with marketing or media. She left school at 15 (normal in them days), but has since returned to education to study History of Art. She's super smart. And ultimately, that's what makes her a very savvy consumer.
When she and my dad were bringing us up, and they didn't have much money, savings and discounts meant everything. Knowing when something was 'too good to be true', or being sceptical about a new product or service, came naturally to my mother. She's not someone who can be swayed by a flashy marketing campaign by expensive Brand X, when she knows that the benefits, ingredients or effects are no different to cheaper Brand Y. * And when you're trying to engage with someone like my mum, it's pretty obvious that you need to understand their thinking. So I phone her up and give her the basics: 'We're trying to sell X - what would you need to see to make you buy it?' And right there I get insights from someone who's been at the coalface of consumerism for the last 50 years.
Brands don't listen to their customers - or their mums - enough. I think every agency or brand should have a mum panel (or parent panel) to test ideas on. Might save a lot of time and money.
If there's no mum in your life (or one that you want to speak to), then a dad, auntie, gran, older brother etc will do. It just needs to be someone who wants to help (and will be honoured and flattered you asked their opinion). And it helps even more if they have nothing to do with your industry. Or are a different generation. Or even live in a different country.
Different perspectives spark different ideas. This is a good thing.
* The exception was when Marks & Spencer started doing food. Nothing was ever the same after that.