How to run a
Why marketing workshops are so important
‘Talent wins games but teamwork and intelligence win
(Michael Jordan)
orkshops allow you and
your colleagues to be cre-
ative and discover ways of
marketing successfully that day to
day stuck behind your PC, you
might not achieve. Workshops are
the mechanism for unleashing competitive edge. Do not try to
be a brilliant marketer by yourself it won’t work.
What is a workshop?
It’s a group of colleagues who get together to thrash out a
problem or series of problems or, alternately, try to work out
how to realise one or more opportunities. It has as its guiding
principle the belief that together we are stronger. But it stands or
falls on how it’s done.
workshops are the
mechanism for
unleashing competitive
264 brilliant marketing
One unusual and interesting venue.
One inspiring facilitator with an assistant or amanuensis (sorry,
scribe or note taker), who can turn a mess into messages.
Eight to ten eager (getting people into the right frame of mind is
critical) and very well-briefed participants representing different
functions and skills.
Ten clear and carefully prepared briefing packs including a
critical ‘rules of engagement’ or ‘how we are going to cook this
At least three rooms so the group can be split up into two or
three groups during the day.
At least (if possible) one overnight stay so the dish prepared can
be reheated the next day and improved.
White boards and A2 easels with lots of paper and coloured
marker pens.
Plenty of spice viz. stimuli for everyone product samples,
proto-types, competitors’ samples, ads, PR releases, media cov-
erage, videos, anything which puts the conversations that will be
held into context.
Cooking instructions
Your master-chef-facilitator will lead this. She or he will have
A workshop is a dish that needs to be cooked carefully, with
excellent and well-prepared ingredients. The Jamie Oliver ‘splash it
around lovely outcome’ won’t do. Holding a workshop is a big
statement and needs to be treated very seriously.
How to run a brilliant marketing workshop 265
made sure everyone is brilliantly briefed and will have had a 121
with each beforehand. This is not a random exercise. It really
needs great planning. The 121 will establish not the actual
outcome, but the process, so that on the day every single mind
is revving up to deliver its best.
The assistant/stand-in, apart from taking notes, makes sure
everyone is comfortable and being treated properly. The minds
in this room are valuable pieces of equipment and they deserve
One other thing. There’s one question the facilitators must keep
asking the delegates and that is, ‘What’s missing?’ Much better
to ask this at the event than afterwards decide something was
indeed missing but not mentioned.
The day/two-day programme will depend on the facilitator but
will usually go through seven phases:
INTRODUCTION who’s who; why you are there; what you hope
and expect to get out of it; the broad dimensions of the task.
INVESTIGATION asking all the questions that need asking;
making sure everyone has a clear handle on these issues; debating
the scale of the challenge.
COMPLICATION this is the messy bit, which is absolutely critical;
try to raise and eliminate as many aspects of the challenge all
the problems, vested interests and detours; this is usually where
everyone gets a bit grumpy and wonders where it’s all going.
CREATION –agood period of time to be spent in smaller groups
(two groups each with facilitators) on idea generation; create as
many ideas as possible; work fast; work visually; be alive; have fun.
FOCUS the editing process; the total group reconvenes and
presents all the ideas to each other; reducing all the ideas down.

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