For many this is how the past four years have felt, with agencies seeing their creative revenues squeezed because the justification for spending on a subjective and less measured resource was deemed unnecessary, possibly even negligent.
But in the wake of an economic recovery the emerging sentiment is far from bleak. Brand owners are preparing to defend market share and fight for growth. Armed with marketing automation and rapier acquisition strategies there has been a dawning realisation that technology might support effective service, but it is simply a business as usual function, and creativity is how to score points of difference.
So what does creativity really mean in the era of the digital consumer?
We live in a world where media is increasingly fragmented and brands have to fight harder and harder to attract attention, and it has taken marketers a long time to come to terms with this.
People talk, share and collaborate more than ever before. Spending their time amongst 1bn Facebook users, watching 4bn videos on YouTube every day and actively tweeting with 200m people.
In the UK, on average, we now divide our time across 11 media devices per household and choose to research products across 22 websites before making a purchase.
So, in this complex world where every person is a digitally led consumer, the key to success lies in being different, being recognised and being talked about.
1. Be Integrated
A big idea is a great idea, but the story creative folk write today will be read in fragments. Advertising, promotion, publicity, social engagement even customer service has to be integrated, because the digital consumer will hop between channels. The key to consistency is data intelligence, but commercial advantage is found in how a brand creatively applies it to their marketing.
2. Be Commercially Creative
Being commercially creative in an increasingly automated world means two things:
Firstly you still need to be able to have great ideas that sell products. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, you need to apply great ideas that enhance and protect brand image – because if you damage that, the digital consumer’s voice has never been so powerful, and it can be a long hard road to recovery.
3. Be Collaborative
I believe that in a successful 21st century agency, creativity must be found in every team and that includes our clients. Technologists are as close to designers as strategists are to copywriters. Developing an effective agency service is about collaboration, and that’s why creative ideas can and should come from every part of the organisation. The perception that creativity is just about words and pictures is outdated. For some brands just getting the basics of marketing in place is still the priority, but for many it’s about maximising efficiency through effective collaboration.
Here at The Agency we are only as effective as the people we invest in and the clients we work with. So it’s no surprise that the most effective teams are to be found in collaborative and creative environments. The South West of England has built up an enviable talent pool fed by several world-class universities and a vast number of globally recognised brands. As has been the trend with technology towards co-working and open source, companies based here find that through effective networking they can also access world-class expertise. This allows even the smallest of teams to compete on a world stage. For us, our integrated and commercial capabilities are a direct result of the communities we engage with and the South West talent we attract, something that pays dividends for us, our clients and their customers.