The fracturing media landscape has caused a flurry of confusion, panic and a general loss of bowel control in the industry. The resulting stampede to figure out the next disruption has many people chasing every new app and media gimgaw in an attempt to stay ahead of “what’s next.” In many cases, it’s a reaction to media rather than an alliance with it.
This has spawned campaigns that are a disjointed hodge-podge of executional junk. The equivalent of the stuff you pull out of your dryer at the end of the cycle — sure, it’s something but it’s not a sweater. It’s the crap you throw away. The nuisance. The stuff that doesn’t matter.
What can we do?
So what power do we hold in our hands that can help us avoid marketing that’s just accumulated fuzz and instead create something that yields impressive results? That power is what it’s always been, it’s what agencies do best: solve business problems with creativity.
As an agency, in order for your solutions to be more than random bits of fluff, you have to simultaneously be good at figuring out the business problem, hatching a creative strategy and creating work that is coherent.
Doing these things well ensures work that is strategically effective, coherent for the brand and actually matters to people.
Where do we start?
Let’s start where everything should start: the business problem. Business problems have mostly stayed the same. Sure, the world moves faster. Sure, there’s more disruption. Sure, business has to be more on its toes, but the things that can be affected by marketing and creativity remain mostly the same. We can increase salience, displace the competition, increase awareness or induce trial.
In the past, these were blunt tools applied to a campaign in broad strokes. However, the modern agency is equipped with more sophisticated tools that never existed before.
Social listening, predictive analytics, behavioral and mindset targeting, data-driven analytics and real-time surveys each provide a way to get to really robust insights that allow us to see what exactly will move the needle and with whom.
Channel planning can inform strategic decisions and can help us plan where and how to intercept the consumer on each part of their journey.
So, while the business problems haven’t gotten intrinsically more complex, the ways we have to suss them out and have confidence that you can solve them has gotten exponentially more sophisticated. With that sophistication comes a need for a new level of brainpower.
The pure ability to parse a problem and turn it into a creative strategy is a non-fungible asset that, along with creativity, is the key to an agencies worth.
While this complexity has given us incredible tools to dial a message, it can also eff up our big brains. The problem can be so hyper-analyzed that it’s very easy to have a solution that’s a little of this over here, a little of that over there, and a smattering of something else thrown in without any real brand connection or anything that matters to people.
Avoiding that trap requires an incredibly insightful creative strategy, a really good understanding of the brand story and a multi-tool creative approach.
Creative marketing requires more than just creatives
What this means is instead of having one creative team try to crack the code, you need a multi-disciplinary scrum. It takes hooking generalists, PR, digital, content studio, technology, experiential, social and media together to solve the problem.
Because of this, the brand story, the insight and the brand’s organizing idea become even more important because each part of the path-to-purchase may require a different type of media, adding to the complication, and different type of creative message. It can get quite knotty and when it’s not done correctly it can create marketing that feels like dryer fluff.
Great creative marketing = fame = success
While this changes the creative management of a campaign, it doesn’t intrinsically change what creative can do. Great creative has always decided whether or not a brand becomes famous. And according to a 2014 study from Les Binet and Peter Field for the IPA, fame is a clear predictor of a campaign’s success.
Source: IPA Slideshare, Peter Field on Maximising Campaign Efficiency
Create something that matters
So here’s the creative challenge: As screens get smaller and media fragmentation gets more complex, the ideas have to get bigger and broader and even more famous to span all the channels and actually get noticed and loved.
There’s even more onus on creatives to create fame with ideas that matter. Creative brainpower has never been more critical to businesses who want to succeed.
What an agency can do for business is largely the same as always. Ten years from now, the world will be even more complex. There will be even more toys, more media fragmentation and more disruption to business, but the true solution will look very similar. It will come down to who has the best strategic and creative minds and who can transmogrify business problems into creative solutions that make brands famous. That make brands actually matter to people.
It’s the only way to avoid creating dryer lint.