Is it consistency over creativity for brands in 2023?
Creativity is paramount to brand credibility, but Joe McElligott of MG Empower reminds marketers that sometimes, what consumers want is peace of mind.
Beyond the buzz, brands mustn’t forget their purpose: to add value / Christian Wiediger via Unsplash
Creativity has always been – and should always be – at the heart of any agency’s value proposition. It’s what we spout to our friends, how we sell ourselves and (frankly) a prerequisite to feeling better than client-side. Likewise, ‘authenticity’ has been a staple of agency vernacular since the birth of social media and ‘realness’.
In other words, creativity and authenticity should be ‘always-on’ mindsets. But what we are dealing with right now is a black swan event; all of us will need to be more agile, efficient and dedicated than ever.
Amid changing consumer behavior, we mustn’t forget that the brands and businesses we work with are consumers too. They suddenly become less frivolous, more considered and much more determined to see the value in what they buy.
So, in times of uncertainty, budget cuts and abundant stress, boldness must give way to trust; creativity to security; and the constant pursuit of disruption to reliability and consistency, above all else.
But before you think I’m telling you to get boring, let me clarify: yes, creativity and authenticity will absolutely lead agencies through 2023. But we will need to deliver both without straying too far from the experiences our clients love and know.
Prove value like it’s your job (it is)
What problems can you solve for clients – and why is your agency the best at solving them? What exactly are your clients paying for? Do questions like these make you sweat?
Established frameworks and consistent approaches give chief marketing officers the security and peace of mind that results are guaranteed. So, if you haven’t already changed the way you present case studies, statements of work and costs to show margins, manpower hours and exactly where your clients’ money is going, do it. All of it. I promise you’ll win more pitches (not just refund what you lose).
Commit more time than ever to relationship management
Trust and transparency come with time. The longer you spend with someone, and the more consistently you do it, the more you show your true value. The same goes for client communications.
I’d encourage agencies to focus not only on pitches and diarised meetings, but to put more emphasis on coffees with clients, picking up the phone and asking them questions.
Less scheduling, less zooming and more spur-of-the-moment getting-in-front-of-and-with clients equal more authentic relationships.
Create new value by becoming a one-stop-shop
Offering an integrated, one-stop-shop experience for your clients is an inimitable way to provide consistency. So, if you’re going to do something new, focus on creating new business by showing new things in your offering and your expansion i.e., diversify to ensure longevity and a variety of options, while also growing your value in the eyes of your clients.
What adjacent offerings could you credibly offer? What can you learn quickly, whether by hiring in or upskilling your existing workforce, that will afford you more opportunities to expand or fall back on should one arm of your business fail to deliver? Clients want knights in shining armor. Agencies that deliver everything they need under one roof will shine the brightest.
Go beyond the buzz
At the end of the day, it’s important to see ‘authenticity’ and ‘creativity’ as more than buzzwords – just slapping them onto what you do won’t get you very far, or help you see out this time of uncertainty. But place them in the context of consistent, tangible action, and you may just reap the rewards.
Of course, continue to be creative and authentic. Keep living and breathing those values. But for the time being, ‘newness’ won’t matter as much as consistency – in the way you prove value, in your approach to communications and, crucially, in the client experience you’re selling.
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