We’re seeing the economy upturn once again, aren’t we? We’re feeling excited, enthused and positive about the next few months, right? Clients are relinquishing the purse strings, agencies are gearing up resource and the consumer confidence index is finally taking flight. We can all let a notch out of the belt and start to breathe, can’t we?
Back to normal then? Don’t be fooled.
Positively disrupt what happens in my life rather than invade my space with meaningless bulls**t that I no longer need
Recessions breed new and different behaviours. As we move into growth, don’t for one minute expect to see the same profligate, unfocussed and myopic financial or business strategies that got us into this fine mess in the first place make a triumphant return to the boardroom.
What worked then won’t work now. The consumer is far more savvy; deeply scarred from their W-shaped, subprime loan, Goodwin-gate fuelled experiences, they’re demanding that brands act and behave differently and take a more socially responsible view to how they engage and behave. Serve me rather than spam me. Positively disrupt what happens in my life rather than invade my space with meaningless bulls**t that I no longer need.
Consumers aren’t just tweeting and liking, they’re talking with their slightly buoyed confidence and marginally bigger wallets. They’re more fickle and promiscuous than ever before because they can be; "You may have shaved my face for 25 years, Brand X, but, after all this time, I now see it was just a transactional, shallow relationship. You no longer understand me so I’ll take my business elsewhere".
It doesn’t stop with the consumer. When I speak to peers about the key reason they change their agency it is simply because ‘they no longer understand my business’. In some cases, it’s at the fundamental commercial level (they don’t understand my KPIs or how to impact them effectively) or, in other cases, it’s that the relationship was so reliant on one or two recent leavers that there’s now a huge cultural vacuum that nature is trying to fill in all the wrong ways.
Power to the people
In these times, investing in your people is critical. They are the ones on the front line of translating these new consumer behaviours into meaningful insights that mean your client relationships are fruitful both creatively and commercially. They need continual development to shape, build and explore their full capabilities - better ways of interpreting and delivering against specific business problems, exposure to big thinkers, technique creators and other models such as Lean and Agile principles that grow their cultural, diversity and social awareness.
Agencies that maintained a point of difference and unlocked even greater value in their relationships were the ones which had invested in their people
Agencies have often been the leaders of this thinking, the owners of culture and the builders of brands. Having judged the IPA CPD Gold accreditations this year, those agencies that maintained a point of difference and unlocked even greater value in their relationships were the ones that had adopted and invested in fantastic programmes for their people, educating them, invigorating their cultures and opening the scope of their delivery from traditional to enhanced offerings - all of this was geared to making a significant change to their output and their impact.
In the most successful cases, the clients recognised the power of the development. They felt that the agency had listened to them and demonstrated an alignment with their needs. They were adapting their services to become even more partner based with solutions that impacted far higher up the strategic chain.
So, ask yourself, "How well equipped are our people to deliver what our clients need?" Because if you don’t, your client will.
The upcoming Talent Adaptathon on 7th October will consider the economic value of people and how attracting and retaining the right talent are all fundamental to business services.