If you build it incompletely, they will act.

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Dr. Evil had it right when he said to his Mini Me, “You complete me.” Healthy interdependence is a wonderful and productive state for people and brands. (Must have worked for the villains, the Austin Powers films have pulled in $670 million. Wahahahaha!)

This vulnerability is a challenge. It’s the craftsperson’s nature to create with all the details buffed and shined. But if they want their work widely appreciated, they must build a connection point – a place for buyers to grab hold. This is true as well for the communications we build if we want recipients to act.

The incomplete idea is a cooperative effort. It goes from my work to our work; beginning in need of information from others to make itself whole. It has an inherent call to action: Like button. Comment. Contest. Fill-in-the-personal-info-blank. Upload your face on this head of a celeb. In other words: participate.

Once that action occurs three things follow: 1- the communication is furthered and 2- the recipient is changed into an owner; they are invested in its well-being and have the motivation to share their idea by the millions, which leads to 3- the incomplete idea now completed has become an idea worth advertising vs. an advertising idea.

We can see the difference between attribute and benefit-oriented work where a headline might go: “This revolutionary pencil has three points to write, color and dream with.” Now, the community building idea: “One pencil. 3 points. Show us what you can do with them and post your creation for all to vote on.”

The first comes complete and tells the product story. The second won’t be finished without the responses and endless stories, and a new perspective from a target could even change the product!

I used to get papers back with red marks from grade school teachers saying my work was incomplete – payback time, Mrs. Breudermaker! (Wahahahaha!)

Create work that has roles for your targets to make it their work, because your work won’t be complete unless it starts out incomplete.

4 Responses to If you build it incompletely, they will act.

  1. gabrielle says:

    love this post! so true, and a shift in approach, right? make it incomplete and invite that interaction/creation/action. fabulous!

  2. Stu Haack says:

    The most difficult thing for us creatives at times is to leave work undone. It is this very malady that is so difficult for us which can be so beneficial for our campaign.

    Antoine de Saint Exupéry said “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” It makes sense that we can and should pare down our designs, sentences and campaigns even to the point that they are incomplete, but can still allow our users to make the leap to connection, understanding and ownership.

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