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Provide business ideas not just ad ideas
The role of the communications agency is changing. Marketers no longer expect their agencies to conceptualise creative communications and be their media and production brokers. Today's agency should be taking a good look at their clients' business issues.
This means a good starting point for a campaign is not the client brief but the business plan. It contains every brief you're going to need for the next three to five years. How a company operates is far more revealing than what a brand is doing and saying.
For example, if you're marketing pharmaceutical brands and your business needs to get closer to the medical industry, you don't need an ad. You need something more relevant, focussed and hard working, such as a training programme for nurses or a networking opportunity for doctors. Now that's delivering real value and long-term sustainable brand credit.
Importantly, agencies should be assisting their clients with embracing the digital revolution. Why? Because digital is fundamentally bringing companies and brands closer to their consumers. Digital impacts on everything, from sales and marketing to distribution to customer service, and it's an exciting channel to create business-changing ideas and retain - and gain - market share.
The world is turning upside down, creating amazing opportunities for nimble marketers who have the vision to change. Gone are the days when one-dimensional above- and below-the-line solutions work, agencies should be fulfilling the role of business consultant. And importantly, marketers should empower their agencies with enough information to make informed suggestions.
Several years ago (even though it feels like eons) traditional advertising, mostly 30-second TV ads, was the trusted vehicle for getting your brand messages delivered. Other branding elements, such as direct marketing, events, promotions and in-store were tagged on at the end. This linear branding was the norm for traditional agencies and for consumers who expected to get their brand information from TV commercials.
Cue the digital age. And the marketing paradigm has shifted from linear to nonlinear. While traditional advertising still plays an important role in the branding equation, it no longer drives everything else. That's because masses of modern consumers aren't sitting in front of their TV's, being told why your brand is better than others.
Firstly, there are no masses anymore. Consumer segments are more fragmented than at any other time in marketing history.
Secondly, TV is not the most obvious or failsafe solution. And importantly, it's harder to break through the clutter and get people to pay attention on any one thing for very long.
All of the above point to the same thing. Agencies should provide branding solutions that span multiple platforms all at the same time. Instead of looking at branding as linear, put the brand idea in the middle and ensure as many platforms as your budget permits feed into and from that idea. The medium is no longer the start. The brand idea should drive the media and every other form of brand expression in a brand-centric' manner.
About the author
Michael Gullan is the Managing Director and founder of Gullan&Gullan Advertising (Pty) Ltd. Gullan&Gullan's propriety brand-centric' methodology forms the basis of every communication service ensuring that brand equity is enhanced through congruent, consistent expression at every touch point from the board of directors, to staff, to customers and in the media. http://www.gullanandgullan.com, firstname.lastname@example.org +27 11 887 6591
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