Recently, I agreed to play a card game with my daughter I’d never played before. She was struggling to explain the rules so she said, “just start playing, dad; you learn as you go.” Learn as you go. What a frustrating concept!
And yet it reminded me of marketing in the current landscape of 2019. We’re in a new frontier of audience capture and retention: various media platforms, endless posts, paid influencers, #sponcon, waning brand loyalty… And since there’s no road map, I guess she’s right, “you learn as you go.” But learning as you go requires one important thing: staying nimble. Why? Because by staying nimble, we free ourselves up to get smart and stay ahead.
So, how can agencies (external or in-house) stay nimble? Here are a few thoughts about keeping light on your feet, and what works at Night After Night:
1) Practice your craft – With all the data, channels, content and disruption happening these days, no one can do everything and do it well. On the other hand, by ‘going deep’ and being outstanding at a few things, agencies can develop valuable expertise that marketers need and other shops won’t have. Practicing your craft gives you a chance to become experts, and agencies can demonstrate this by regularly making their own creative work (products, technologies, films, etc.) and sharing it publicly. This keeps you sharp, and demonstrates to your clients that you really are the ones who ‘get it’.
2) Get schooled – Most categories have undergone massive upheaval in the past few years, and more than ever, marketers need help solving their business challenges. Having ‘great creative’, and ‘good storytelling’ are no longer sufficient differentiators; agencies need to understand and communicate how their creative solutions will impact their clients’ businesses. Staying nimble means staying smart, and agencies must develop unique insights about their clients’ businesses and consumers. It’s the art and the science. The upside of this is that good business advice trades at a premium.
3) The need for speed – Businesses know the next few years are going to be turbulent, but what they don’t know is how to get in front of it. Just like the ‘disruptors’, corporations need to be less reactive and more aggressive – testing and learning, unafraid of missteps, and moving with pace. Agencies can help clients understand what might be coming, and how to adopt a mindset and model of working that can enable them to meet the challenge.
The term ‘future proofing’ is funny to me, because it rests on the notion that you can predict the future. (It’s also the sort of boardroom jargon that provides a false sense of mitigated risk). Jeff Bezos doesn’t know what the future holds, and neither does anyone else. Marketers should focus less on preparing for the future and more on being prepared for the future. How? #staynimble and learn as you go. In summary, here’s how:
1 – Make your own creative that backs up your advice to clients (walk your talk)
2 – Understand and communicate how your creative solutions have real business impact
3 – Challenge your clients to act like a start up
Oh, and June kicked my ass in ‘Snip, Snap, Snorem’ but, hey — I’m learning as I go.