Monty Python Markreting Bridge of DeathHave you ever faced the Marketing Bridge of Death?

You work on an important project with a motivated and talented team. You work towards a clearly defined goal with every ounce of knowledge and effort and teamwork you can muster. You stay up all night preparing for your “big reveal” – the final presentation to the executive team.

And when you get there you face a “bridge-keeper” who asks you five (no three) very important questions:

  • What is your name?
  • What is your quest?
  • What is your favorite color?

This famous scene from Monty Python And The Holy Grail is considered one of the best from many good snippets of Monty Python humor. But it also parallels the challenges of working in content marketing, creative, and design – somewhat subjective things which can often be challenged by very senior executives.

Many years ago I experienced this kind of situation in one of the most challenging moments of my career. My company was launching a brand new product. It was something new and revolutionary for the time, a web-based (now called Cloud Computing) application that you didn’t have to install on a PC. By paying a setup and license fee, anyone could gain a license to use this new solution.

But we had a problem. Even though our target market was very well-defined, we had to figure out a way to get the word out and explain it to them. So we gathered a talented and passionate team to design an amazing marketing campaign. We tested every element of the campaign – the design, the messaging, all the creative elements.

A week or so before launch, about 20 of us jammed ourselves into a conference room as the agency and our team presented the idea, the tight campaign timeline, the expected response rate and the rate of return to our executive team. It was the marketing bridge of death.

After all our preparation, the most senior person in the room declared: ”Blue! No Yellow!”

Lessons From The Monty Python (Marketing) Bridge of Death:

  • Share creative ideas with executives early and often.
  • Be confident in your skills, your objectives and your team.
  • Have a solid handle of the facts because your never know when you have to know the air speed velocity of both a European and an African swallow.

I would love to hear how you have faced these kind of situations in the past and your tips for mastering the situation?  Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

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About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Vice President of Global Marketing for SAP where he leads content strategy and serves as the managing editor of the company’s award-winning Business Innovation thought leadership blog site. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

3 Comments

  1. Ryan Skinner said…

    In my experience, when you are faced with an executive giving you the “blue, no yellow” line, you’ve already lost. (I say this having heard that line, and already lost, many many times).

    It’s about positioning. If you’re bold, confident of your creative vision and known for battling back when people question your calls, you’re unlikely to hear those kinds of comments. They can also influence job security. That’s the cost of pursuing a creative vision, though.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      GREAT insight Ryan. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and advice. Having seen some of your creative work, I can imagine you had many of those battles. I’m sure you won more than you lost!

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