Andrew Stephens: a founding partner at Goodstuff Communications
Andrew Stephens: a founding partner at Goodstuff Communications
A view from Andrew Stephens

A month into crazy 2017 and our word of the year must be 'Simplicity'

As we end the first month of 2017, it is an opportune time to reflect on the first 31 days, writes Andrew Stephens of Goodstuff.

Tom Denford of ID Comms, as usual, has got there first and laid down his marker and said that "Change" will be the word of the year.

Assuming he is right, (and we think he is) the question is what we agencies can do for our clients to help facilitate this change where it’s needed and alleviate anxiety where it’s not or not yet known?

Our answer lies as much in history as it does in the now. It’s also not something we’ve particularly learnt from the media industry but from the world of creative agencies. Or more specifically, the Saatchi brothers.

For they believed it was easier to complicate than it was to simplify something and why "Brutal Simplicity" became their calling card when they set up M&C in January 1995. 

So fast forward 22 years exactly from when they launched and it’s as relevant now as it was then and why our word of 2017, is very simply, Simplicity.

Our clients crying out for it. They are super-busy dealing with macro-business issues from the exchange rate impact on their pricing strategy to sourcing top technology talent to building a single customer view to finding growth in a sluggish market.

So, the little time they do have for agencies we need to make useful, exciting, simple and to the point. Our job is to cut out the noise, filter through the clutter and present our clients with the best solutions to drive their business. Simple?

Well it should be. But our industry is facing new world problems with old world media structures – bureaucratic agency networks, outdated share deals, tied digital platforms and the inability to change course quickly, if at all.

So in a utopian world (or as some might say, the independent media scene), here is what Simplicity should look like to a client:

  1. Be a partner. Behave as if the budget were your own money and put their business ahead of your share deals and quarterly profit targets.
  2. Drop the share deal. Rather than spend the year trying to deliver for a media owner, spend the year trying to deliver the clients business.
  3. Be transparent. Spend less time scheming ways around a client contract and more time honouring it.
  4. Ideas win. Creativity remains the most powerful weapon in a client’s armour. The rest is transient noise.
  5. Be positive. Whilst what we do is more frenetic and less certain than ever, it’s still the best job going so stick a smile on.

So, let’s Keep It Simple and champion Simplicity. If it’s good enough for the Saatchi brothers it’s good enough for us.

Andrew Stephens is a founding partner of Goodstuff Communications.