Advice for and from marketers faced with the decimation of their business from the spread of COVID-19 is mostly digital flotsam.
There are lots of cautionary words from on high. Thankfully, there are also a few measured voices (other than my own) willing to stand up for companies who need to stay in front of their customers, or close their doors, maybe forever.
Marketing is how you communicate with customers. It’s not just the advertising outputs like an ad or in-store poster that a brand makes. It’s everything a business is and does. If the company is humble and customer-focused, people hear, see, and feel that and respond in kind.
I’ve been working with clients to fuse their marketing communications with operations for over a decade. Because that’s how you move the customer experience needle. You create spellbinding advertising, then you deliver on the promises made in the ads in real life.
Crisis Comms Does Not Mean “No Comms”
I do understand the plea for marketers to be sensitive. I don’t disagree with the advice, but I’m also not impressed by it. Bad, me-centric, chest-pounding advertising is always bad. Now, as before. So, the move to make today is a permanent shift to more wholesome and highly valued communications.
How do you do that? This is how: Answer these two questions over and over in your communications: HOW CAN I SERVE and WHY DOES IT MATTER to the customer?
Digital Disruption Was the Preparation for Now
There hasn’t been much room for waste in client budgets for many years. Now, there is no room whatsoever. At the same time, clients need business-building ideas now more than ever.
The Hollywood Model
New solutions for the ad industry won’t be like the old solutions. The old way was to pay a bunch of people to gather in an architecturally-significant downtown office where advertising gets made. The overhead for this kind of urban real estate is immense, as anyone who pays the agency’s lease and utilities will testify.
The new way isn’t a fullscale move to distributed teams. It is a new elevated allowance for, and real marketplace desire for, distributed teams.
Like movie studios, the agencies of the future will be aggregators of talented teams that can assemble and disassemble. FWIW, this is the way Bonehook was designed to work, and we have 10.5 years of experience making it work.
Talent Now, Talent Tomorrow, Talent Forever
Here’s the encouraging part of all this disruption…talent wins. Talent wins because talent is the core offering. With no money to waste, clients will no longer be able to afford their agency of old.
The way forward looks something like this:
- Flat fee billing and small distributed teams
- Every player plays multiple roles
- No award show submissions or vanity-fueled sideshows
- Travel only when necessary
Returning advertising to a cottage industry may sound horrid to the fattest of cats. To me, it sounds like survival and an excellent time to remake the ad industry for the 21st century.