From Forbes: Creativity At Market Speed

It’s the era of the entrepreneur. Tools, technology and platforms make it seem easier than ever to fund and execute an idea. As David Armano recently pointed out here on Forbes, one can even do it within the big company.

Markets move fast, and creative folks can’t sit on our perches taking our time, ignoring the value of speed. There’s far too much money + creativity on which our brands can lose out. But what does entrepreneurial marketing look like in big, complex organizations with silos, hierarchies and rigid structures built-in for decades? Most brands, after all, are still in a habit of budgeting, planning and producing a marketing campaign or two a year with a few drive periods. Considering customer hunger for new content and experiences are constant throughout the year (or within 24 hours — check out this recent eMarketer data), perhaps the millions of dollars and hundreds of hours we spend pre-planning a big ‘it’ could be better deployed in batches that actually feed customer demand and faster moving market cycles. Of course, ideas must be consistent with the brand’s overall platform, but more like bursts of interactive activity than one flight pre-planned a year in advance as if that did much anymore. Admittedly, batches and bursts are more work to plan and produce — and spontanaiety ironically doesn’t always mix with traditional approaches to creativity —but I’d argue that this approach is more modern, more intuitive, highly measurable and, yes, more fun. A few ideas:

1. Harness the calendar. Seasonal marketing isn’t new, but too often, timely work in categories like auto, financial services and retail are only tactical, detached from the brand platform and purely promotional with a buy now message. SpanAir’s “Unexpected Luggage” at Christmas 2010 was a triumph in customer and public relations. You’re probably too late to do something brilliant and brand-building for Father’s Day, but what’s your brand’s point of view for Flag Day, Independence Day or even pseudo-holidays such as Dare Day, National Yo-Yo Day and World UFO Day (Find more “holidays” here). Public relations, digital, advertising and promotion can all come together to create something exciting, insightful, ownable — and surprising.

2. Invent something — a program, a service or a product. Fiat famously created EcoDrive. Charmin created the Sit or Squat app. You don’t have to be a software company to make it. Or create an ownable event. Since 1916, my former client Nathan’s has sponsored a Hot Dog Eating Contest culminating on July 4th, outside their original restaurant in Coney Island. Reinforces their brand. Drives sales. Always gets TV and social coverage.

3. Find your time. Who you’re talking to might have a great hour of the day or day of the week. Who’s online researching at 2 a.m.? Who’s up early before the market opens? Or be unconventional with your usual drive periods. One online brokerage client, for example, took a risk with me, and while everyone went dark during the summer, the feisty brand ran ads about how your money is not on vacation and selling a global trading platform, “July 4th is only a holiday here.” The simple display ad campaign (produced in less than three weeks) brought in enough new accounts to more than pay for what we spent.

4. Make news. I’d like to think creative marketing people come to work every morning thinking about their brand. When we see something in the news, we could consider how and if our brand should respond. Or perhaps there’s news to create from scratch. It requires being ridiculously fast with an idea — and being able to get a client partner on the phone for a yes/no decision. Are you hungry and willing to move fast?

Implicit in ideas like these few above are timely experiences in which the customer can have a role to participate or at least revel with you. The value to the brand, the room for creativity, and the ability to measure success to me is pretty clear. Less obvious, of course, is how to rejigger agency fees, production money and a plan of what a good year would now look like. Flexibility of how money is spent needs to be provided. Creative people are up for it. Spontaneity and speed, however, desperately need advocates. Urgency needs your permission from the top.



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