The first thing most brands do when a crisis hits is often the last thing they should: Put marketing on hold. The ones that make this mistake suffer far longer post-crisis than those who know better.
To be clear, we’re not talking about advertising. We’re talking about marketing. It’s easy to tell your agency partner to turn off your ads. What you don’t want to tell them is to stop getting creative for your business.
Certainly, in the COVID-19 world we find ourselves in today, some businesses and brands are seeing revenues disappear at startling rates. Each has to navigate the troubled waters the best they can. But the one thing most brands need now is strong partnerships with their creative agencies to help them steady the ship.
Is it not the toughest of times that requires the most creative thinking to succeed?
One of our mantras at Cornett is to do right by the brand. Even days before schools were closed and businesses were ordered shut to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we were thinking through scenarios on behalf of all of our clients. What would they face? What would they need? How could we help?
Two weeks in, we’ve had incredible feedback from them. We noticed a pattern. And we wanted to share.
There are three strengths to look for in an agency partner to weather the storms of extended crises or uncertain futures. Without these, you won’t be optimally prepared for what lies ahead.
The Power of Agility
Every minute of every day we are seeing enormous changes in the economy, consumer behavior or even the ability for consumers to behave. Turbulent times bring with them mass mood swings. It is important, then, for your brand and its agencies to be agile in developing messaging that can be easily, quickly and inexpensively executed and scaled.
When the marketplace is uncertain, the appetite for expensive production for messaging that in a matter of 24 hours may seem tone def or irrelevant is non-existent. Your brand needs an agency that can quickly assess all available assets, determine what can be used or re-purposed and creatively attack what is missing. That is time and money well-spent, if not well-saved. Having a partner with a process and structure for agility is key.
The Power of Creativity
Creativity is an absolute essential for all businesses and brands in the COVID-19 world. And creativity means far more than clever headlines or slick video productions. Though Cornett is an advertising agency, we typically describe what we do as creative problem-solving. It might be an interesting way to consumer’s attention with an advertisement or social content. But it might also be arming your customer service team with revised verbiage to get to faster resolution of a common problem.
Agencies are full of creative resources. Your brand should look to them for more than the obvious ways creativity surfaces. Some of our biggest client successes have been based on creative strategies, not just slick artwork or copy.
The Power of Relationships
I once had a client who told me what he really wanted from an agency partner was a handful of people who did nothing but thought about ways to move his business forward. Having a team of people who not only know, but care deeply about your business allows you confidence in your work, your decisions, and your solutions.
That dedication is bred by the human element of relationships, by digging deeper to know one another so that your brand is not your team alone, but an entire second business standing beside you when you need them most.
Never have we found ourselves as marketers or as businesses in a place in history where compassion and dedication to each other are as important as any other element of success. Your agency has to be locked, arm in arm, with you when things are good and when they’re challenging.
How Do You Know?
Think of the conversations you had with your agency partners or even other vendors the day we all realized children were staying home from school or we were discouraged from coming into the office. Were they waiting for direction? Asking questions? Or were they ready with nimble creative solutions and ideas to address an array of possible directions your brand could go in light of the uncertain future?
Are they continuing to bring you ideas and opportunities to fight the oncoming current or have they drifted downstream waiting for you to seek their help?
If your agency is truly invested in you as much as you have in them, you’ll find them by not looking behind you, but beside you.