A manager and a pig walk into a marketing department. The manager introduces the pig to everyone and announces, “Your job is to make this pig beautiful and sexy! You can do anything you want as long as you don’t spend any money and don’t use lipstick. Can you wrap this up by Friday?”

Sound familiar?

Sure it does and our instincts tell us to run . . . do not walk . . . away from another management-by-moron opportunity. That’s what everybody else in the room will do, right? So, maybe you’re not like everybody else.

Maybe, just maybe this is the opportunity you’ve been looking for. If it is, our advice on how to approach this pig of a project is to:

  1.         Be curious, open minded and bold.
  2.         Dig until you understand the true nature and requirements of the business opportunity.
  3.         Repackage it and change the conversation.

Pass the Message

There’s a pretty good chance that a truly new project didn’t originate with the manager delivering the news. There’s also a good chance that the original goal of the project wasn’t communicated clearly either. Just like the game “Pass the Message” we all played as kids, the initial message gets jumbled as it passes through more and more people. The same can happen in business where project needs are passed on from one department to another such as Sales, or a manager up the chain of command. By the time the project gets to the Marketing department, the true purpose may be unclear.

Why is this important?

Ask the tough “WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT” question. DIG IN! “Because I said so,” is not going to work in the office any better than it does at home.

It’s up to you to uncover where this project came from. Be patient and keep pressing until you find the answer. The person or group that started it all should have a crisp vision of why this project needs to happen. It could be financial drivers like cost control, margin improvement and top-line sales growth or it could be management drivers generally rooted in the brand and Public Relations. And of course there’s Sales? More leads, emails, newsletters, leads, brochures, trade shows, leads, presentation support, leads, customized anything, etc.

So do you need a sexy pig after all?

You’ve done the work, you make the call but rewrite the project’s script, its objective and make it your own. Develop a communication strategy that embraces every stakeholder. Then execute it with enthusiasm. Your ultimate objective is for everyone to measure success using the performance metrics you define and communicate. This is a process, of course, and requires persistence and patience. But it’s worth the effort because you’re setting high standards for strategic and tactical thinking as well as showcasing your leadership skills.

Read about the Power of Storytelling