In the 1970s, it was popular among management consultants to challenge their clients to a thought exercise called “The Nine Dots Puzzle”. The object was to draw four straight lines intersecting each dot without taking the pen off the page.
Go ahead and give it a try:
This puzzle and its solution are the origin of one of the most familiar axioms in marketing: “Think outside the box”. For decades, this cliché has stood the test of time because it illuminates one of the most important qualities of effective marketing: standing out.
So what exactly is the box, and how do you think “out” of it?
The Box, Defined
Contrary to what many believe, “the box” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It refers to our everyday assumptions and habits – our usual way of doing things. Thinking inside the box arises out of practical necessity, and it can be a good thing, particularly for a bigger organization.
However, entering into a pattern of thought has a very clear drawback: sometimes there are better solutions that are just outside the purview of normal procedure. Only by stepping out of our comfort zone can we begin to discover what those solutions might be.
That’s why the Nine Dots Puzzle is instructive. It shows us that our capacity for creativity is determined, at least in some sense, by our willingness to do things differently.
How This Applies
Most organizations that embark on the journey of creating a video generally set out with the goal of doing something unique. Naturally, they want their video to stand out from the crowd. However, doing something unique necessarily requires a degree of risk, something that a lot of organizations are instinctively wary of.
In the case of video marketing, the best way to manage that risk is to work with a team that has a transparent creative process. In most creative endeavors, collaboration yields better results, so work with people who understand the value of good communication, and who will take the time to understand your communication objectives.
If you approach your video project from the perspective that ‘differentisgood’, then you might end up with a final product that not only fulfills its communications objective, but also gets shared online and attracts a wider audience – an ‘added value’ well worth the risk.
That’s why, in the case of video marketing, thinking both outside and inside the box works best. Operating within proven procedures and practices will ensure you have control of your message, but the willingness to take a risk is the secret ingredient to making a video truly stand out.