Move over ‘disruptive,’ ‘innovative,’ and ‘smart content.’ For the more culturally savvy, even the word ‘bespoke’ can shuffle to the sidelines for the moment. Right at this very moment, the landscape isn’t just shifting, it’s in a bit of a freefall . . .
The US government is currently shutdown with no apparent end in sight. Markets have suffered the worst December since 1931 (that’s The Great Depression, a pretty bleak moment in economic history). And a lightning speed, relentless news cycle seems to lie in wait for major (and minor) brand fails.
For brands and marketers to simply ‘pivot’ just won’t cut it. In 2019, ‘nimble’ is the new black.
To use Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word, ‘nimble’ is defined by "quick and light in motion, agile" and "marked by quick, alert, clever conception" and "responsive, sensitive."
So, to be clear, we’re not just talking about being cheaper and faster with a consideration of spend. We’re talking about adapting a new process to meet the challenges of a new year.
Here are four ways that brand marketers and agencies alike can be nimble and thrive in 2019:
1. Be intelligently fast
With attention spans and news cycles being what they are (re: incredibly short), knee jerk reactions that sacrifice smart thinking for speed can get brands and their agencies in trouble. Fully consider potential outcomes, both positive and negative, before going to market. Establish checks and balances that must be met, and give your team or agency enough time to do it right.
2. Tighten up your team
The old model for brands and agencies saw layers upon layers of team members collaborating on a single project. And while I’m all for being a team player, keep your team tight. A smaller team is more streamlined, which means less room for miscommunication, mistakes and mayhem. It also helps with being intelligently fast, too!
3. Read. Watch. Listen. Repeat.
Here’s where the "responsive" and "sensitive" definition of ‘nimble’ comes in. Depending on who your brand or campaign speaks to – are you reading what they read? Watching what they watch? Listening to the music/podcasts/audiobooks they are? If not, someone on your (tight) team can be charged with being the eyes and ears on the ground. Getting into the mind of your consumer has always been standard practice, but in a landscape that is increasingly multicultural across race, religion, sexuality and how people identify – it’s never been more important. And once you’ve read, watched, and listened? Do it again.
4. Admit defeat, but don’t stay defeated
In all of this nimbleness and moving quickly, mistakes will be made. When that happens (and it will, trust me), own up to them in an authentic way. The brands that listen to their consumers when they’ve messed up, honestly admit their mistakes and learn from them are the ones consumers respect. Which leads me to . .
Everyone remembers that iconic scene from ‘The Matrix’ when Neo finally becomes the man and hero he was destined to be. He simply took what he already knew and improved upon it. He didn’t try the same thing over and over hoping for different outcomes. I’m challenging brands and agencies to do the same. Take what you know, all the Big Data and research and A/B testing and focus groups and previous wins and fails and evolve. (And if Keanu Reeves dodging Agent Smith’s bullets in a black trench and a crazy backbend isn’t the definition of nimble, I don’t know what is.)
Nick Platt is the CEO and chief creative officer of LO:LA (London: Los Angeles).