Adnalysis: Agile brand marketing is essential in today’s world
by Bogosi Motshegwa (@Thinkerneur) Most investments in marketing have no guarantee. If they do, you can bet that these are safe investments. Activities that have been done before. But, if you’re engaging your target market in innovative ways where there is neither guardrail nor template, there are no guarantees. How many brands, marketers and agencies engage in “never-seen-before brand executions”? That’s a story for another day.
Whether we engage in expected or novel activities, when we set big and audacious goals, we decide on a strategic direction and we have our intermediate goals that help us achieve our big audacious goals. We plan, which is fantastic. Yet planning ahead is great for long-term but may be stifling for the short-term in leading to the long-term success. Basically, having long-term goals is not sufficient; we need to have agile, flexible and nimble short-term goals.
Here’s what I mean
Brands, marketers and advertisers embark on yearly plans and, once those have been developed and agreed upon, the documents become the holy grail. The caution I have with yearly or multiple-year plans is that, while they provide direction on how brand-building will be implemented for the year or years to come, at the same time, the same plans rule out any other opportunities that may come about as these may fall outside the budget or scope of work that’s already been outlined.
In today’s world, technological advancements are moving businesses forward at a rapid pace. Big data, AI, machine learning and programmatic tools are allowing us to be nimble and flexible (at least in theory). Our thinking and planning are set in the future, and yet our ability is stifled to take advantage of opportunities immediately.
What we need to do
Planning is necessary, and I do advocate for it. To have a vision is a sign of life. I also know that budgets are tight as they need to be allocated and signed way ahead of time. I would like to add one more thing to yearly plans, however. It won’t be easy to execute but is worth including.
Businesses which are agile and nimble in their actions are the ones that win and provide the most value for customers and people — the operative word being “value”. If tech is shaping how we do business, and interact with our audiences and how they in turn interact with brands, surely how we plan should also be informed by these uncertain times?
Things change rapidly and this is the primary reason why brands need to be flexible, agile and nimble. I’ve seen brands miss opportunities — great opportunities — because “the idea is not part of our brand plans” or because “we have already set budgets aside”. In a rapidly changing world, shouldn’t our plans be changing accordingly?
How to be flexible, agile and nimble
- Keep reviewing the strategy: There’s no such thing as a complete strategy. I believe that strategy is a consistent work-in-progress for the better. This may sound schizophrenic but it’s not. If strategic thinking is fixed, creative ideas also get fixed.
- Keep refining creative ideas: Again, there’s no such thing as the perfect idea. Great ideas keep being iterated. There’s always an opportunity to finesse, to refine, to do something better. Creative ideas are no different to strategy, especially so because these are what people get to consume directly.
- Keep asking if this is the best way: I’ve found that, the more you ask this question, the more loopholes you see, and therefore you can close them. This question is a win-win because should there be no loopholes; interrogating the ideas allows you to gain confidence in those ideas. Confidence is key to achieving your goals because, once you believe in them, making them possible becomes easy.
- What do you think? Collaboration is key. Ask people what they think; there’s value is listening to others. You’ll be surprised by the quality of feedback you’ll get from people you didn’t expect. Brand marketing at its core is based on human relations. So, it’s not a bad idea to ask people to review your ideas. After all, no single idea may purely be attributed to a single person.
- Have the ‘agile’ budget: Easier said than done. Why would you have ‘agile’ budget when you can deploy every rand into something that you believe will yield desired results? See points 3 and 4. No matter how smart you think you are, you never really have it figured out as there’s no way that you had all the world’s information at your fingertips when you were planning and, therefore, chances are you may’ve missed something. This may very well be what could literally change the direction of your campaign or brand-building efforts for the better. This is literally money for what you may have missed. But, as humans, we don’t like to think about things we might have done; it’s better for our egos that everything that can be done has been done. Perspective is everything, and there is absolutely no way that one human being can have a view of all possible viewpoints or perspective. We are only human; therefore, we have our shortcomings. This ‘agile’ budget is for our shortcomings.
Being agile, flexible and nimble are what brands need to do to win and the five points above are fundamental to achieving great successes. It’s not necessarily about ‘technology’ but the thinking. The more flexible, nimble and agile the mind is, the greater the chances for achieving unprecedented success.
Bogosi Motshegwa (@Thinkerneur) truly believes that advertising can really change the world. Every single day he tries to prove this. He shares his thoughts on the industry and sometimes has unconventional views. Bogosi is the co-founder of Melanoid Éclat (for finding black entrepreneurs), a committee member of AMASA, an Advisory Council member and guest speaker at Vega, and also does speaker management at TEDxJohannesburg. He is currently a strategic planner at Net#work BBDO. He contributes the monthly column, “Adnalysis”, which analyses adland from a strategist’s point of view, to MarkLives.com.
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