The importance of staying flexible

Understandably, there’s a tendency within agencies to follow certain guiding principles that define how you work. You know, beliefs like ‘don’t be too attached to your ideas’, or ‘never rush anything’.

But what if things aren’t so black and white? What if we need more flexible principles to be truly successful?

Last month we heard a talk by the formidable marketing legend, Cindy Gallop. In it, she presented the audience with sets of seemingly opposite statements related to marketing.

Then she proved how neither statement alone is true; rather both are true. And if we want to be the best agencies we can be, we should flex the principles and apply them depending on the context.

Suitably inspired, we wanted to share a few of them with you.

Go slow. Go fast

Often it’s good to go slow. Cindy used this example – say you’ve prepared for two weeks for a pitch. The big day arrives, but your client doesn’t arrive for 40 minutes. You’re expected to rush through your carefully crafted strategy and ideas.

In this situation, go slow. Say no and request another date. Your client deserves to hear the ideas presented properly, which you can’t do without adequate time.

On the flip side?

Life today moves at dizzying speeds and it’s increasingly difficult to catch customers’ attention. It’s not enough to be current – we have to be leading the pack. So we need to go fast.

A great example is Oreo. During a power-cut at the Superbowl, the biscuit company was first off the mark with its brilliant ‘You can still dunk in the dark’ tweet. Oreo was able to create a viral success by having the right structure in place – their trusted and empowered agency was kept on standby throughout the Superbowl.

Kill your darlings. Save your darlings

It’s an adage that won’t be new to any marketer. Part of the creative process is to critique your much-loved ideas and be open to criticism from your team.

Besides, when the damage to our ego subsides, you’ve often collectively transformed the idea into something much better.

But what about those occasions when you know you’ve got a cracking idea that, for reasons of budget or risk, get rejected?

Cindy says it’s time to save your darling. Pop it in your bottom drawer and wait. We’d never suggest copying and pasting one concept to another client. But you never know when a binned idea might resurface to glory for another client with a few careful adaptations.

Anybody can be creative. Some people are more creative than others

The notion that great ideas can only come from the creative team is an out-dated one. Sure, you can always rely on your creative talent team to dream up brilliance. But that doesn’t mean inspiration stops there.

Your office may have an untapped source of creativity in any department, especially when it comes to how you run your business.

But, as Cindy argued, diversity breeds creativity. Disabled people have to be creative to traverse a world built for able-bodied people. BAME people have to be creative to overcome the prejudice and stereotyping they face. Mothers have to be creative simply because every day they persuade small irrational people to do things they really don’t want to do.

These people are hugely valuable assets to any agency. And we need to embrace them. Ask yourself: where is your creativity coming from? Is it from a wide perspective or could you be drawing upon a more diverse group that reflect the society into which we send our ads?

What does this mean for me?

At the end of the day, to produce the most effective and creative marketing, we need to remain agile and open-minded. It’s important to employ a diverse range of people, tap into talent across the business and to be open to contradictions.

What’s right for one client might not work for another. That’s why any good agency strives to get close to the client, and pull on the threads of creativity that might tie an idea together.

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