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Communicate Online | Regional Edition | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

Communicate Online | Regional Edition | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

Agile for a volatile reality

Opinion

Agile for a volatile reality

By Danielle Jamal, communication director, Leo Burnett

Agile is an achieved buzzword status; a word we all currently love! A very critical component to today’s success; however, are agencies and brands equipped to embrace this methodology in order to cater for today’s rigorous demands? It’s still a hit or miss!

Agencies have acknowledged the importance and need for agile, however they are still struggling to find the right balance in terms of skillset, process and production, having been accustomed to the traditional methodology that has been rooted within them for many years.

Our region today is evolving at a pace rarely seen before, and thus, for brands to connect with their audience, they not only need to be thinking data, but more importantly, they should be thinking consumer. As mentioned many times over, we live in a highly mobile era, where consumers have high expectations as well as options that vary as they move down the purchase funnel. Thus, consumers interact and react depending on what stage of the consumer journey they are at and hence agile is the key for brands to be able to cater to an incredibly dynamic, diverse and incongruent region.

It’s time for a shift in perspective to adapt to today’s times where budgets are often low, attention span is limited, competition is fierce, and consumers having high expectations.

Agile should be the new focus.

What’s called for is a phased approach opposed to the linear waterfall approach that we’ve grown accustomed to. It enables agencies to produce minimal viable content using sprints for a hyper connected consumer allowing you to test, learn and optimize content; figuring out the strategic blind spots by looking broader and understanding consumers’ real needs and tailoring content as we learn and understand what consumers really want.

Using real time interactions and monitoring behavior, brands are able to create and deploy consumer-focused content. This approach facilitates moving from one-to-all to one-to-one communication resonating with the individual at hand and achieving optimal business results.

Agile today has become more important than ever.

The content spectrum has evolved.

Content today is on demand covering diverse audiences with lower budgets to make it happen. It is no longer sustainable to launch with a big bang and hope the candle stays lit in consumers’ hearts. Brands must think beyond just campaigns; they need to be ready for an ongoing dialogue with the consumer to ensure TOMA at any point in time.

“Content is about sustained attention, gaining your audience’s trust by drawing them into your brand’s community for a desirable amount of time,” says Nick Kendall, Founding Partner of Broken, Electric Glue and The Garage Soho.

Kendall, also stated in the WARC effective content strategy report, “Maybe content should stop being the poor cousin and grow up to become the central player in a brand repertoire. Many of the ideas here are capable of that. The Coke Grand Prix is an example of one idea spawning many, STC’s Unveil Saudi is a campaign that can become a long- term positioning, while EGBank’s The Chronicles of Oufa could run and run.”

The forgoing leads to one truth, successful campaigns would have had an even bigger impact had they lived on beyond a campaign’s set timeframe. In other words, a story should not end with a campaign, rather it should end when it is no longer relevant.

Putting agile to work, agencies will be able to deliver on this truth and sustain an ongoing dialogue, drive engagement and advocacy. Bear in mind that big ideas are still just as important, but they need to be smarter and work harder for the brand to reap results.

As nicely articulated by Kamal Dimachkie, COO of Publicis Communication MEA, “Some may feel that in these transformational times, creativity is taking, or perhaps should take, a backseat; this cannot be further from the truth. Today, creativity plays and has to play an even bigger role in enabling our clients deliver and, ideally, exceed their challenging goals. This is a time where the need for better, sharper, smarter creative has never been as urgent and as critical. We need creativity not only to reach people’s hearts better and more effectively, but to also help our clients meet their ever-more challenging lives. This means that our thinking, work and product will have to work even harder, faster and smarter.”

But it’s one thing to think agile and another to get it right.

The action of being quick-to-market with compelling content based on real-time cultural trends is the real challenge at hand. Such challenge is possible to tackle with the right team, process and assets in place. In fact, agile only works if we move away from the traditional production process and simplify matters by removing the layers and barriers that hold us back.

Agencies alongside brands need to evolve and, as noted above, move beyond the traditional production methodology for them to seek greater control, speed efficiency and flexibility while working with low budgets, thus ensuring that the consumer is constantly at the core of everything they do. They need to refrain from thinking that they are more creative than the consumer and allow them to be part of shaping the narrative ultimately building a community and a sense of belonging. Lack of constant presence in the market in light of fierce competition can easily lose brand equity and put a brand on its heels, thus the need for a two-way ongoing relevant dialogue.

It’s simple! The traditional linear production process we’ve grown accustomed to for many years, no longer works as it stands. The way forward is agile.

So what does it take to get agile right?

As with everything else we do, it all starts with planning ahead using data and leaving room for the unexpected moments to connect with your audience and deliver on business objectives. Remove the layers, put a process in place that works for your brand and have the right skillset and structure to run the show. With the right foundation intact, e.g. strategy, creative, analytics and production teams sitting side by side and collaborating fluidly, agile content will be the by-product.

Take Red Bull for example. They’ve even gone a step further to combine brand, agency, and production company into one. It is obvious that they are one of the most successful agile content marketers on the planet and have been excelling at it for more than a decade. Red Bull is an iconic brand that leads by example for any brand to follow.

Agile is not taking away from the creativity spark; it simply facilitates both fame and relevancy leading to optimal business results. It allows us to work smarter, keeps us ahead of the curve, constantly evolving and producing for a volatile reality. It’s a new world, and we are simply reacting to the speed and pace of change and culture. If anything, creativity has become more important than ever, but the definition of creativity and the delivery process is what agencies and brands need to reassess and adapt to deliver results. To that end, creativity is no longer restricted to brands and agencies; everyone is creative and our consumers want part in telling the story from their point of view which is only possible if we have the right process, skills tools and pace to deliver. That is agile.

 

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