Beat the gloom by focusing on ideas

New spirit of creativity waits in the wings

Damn it’s going to be a tough year for marketers. Apparently no-one under 21 watches TV, no-one uses Facebook apps, people don’t trust anything companies say and budgets are slashed to the bone.

Good. Hopefully we’ll see an end to default marketing with lazy strategies, banal creative and millions of pounds being washed merrily down the drain paying the Murdoch tax.

Now, more than ever, we need to focus on ideas. This will not come as a shock to anyone. The interesting bit comes from the, somewhat counter-intuitive thought, that an economic downturn is a good time to start being more creative and entrepreneurial.”…Again out of destruction a new spirit of creativity arises.” These words, from the German economist and sociologist Werner Sombart, refer to the principle of creative destruction (a term championed by the economist Joseph Schumpeter) which is the process by which innovative, creative and entrepreneurial newcomers arise from the ashes of the previous establishment. Microsoft, GE and HP all started in recession.

So you’ve got no budget and you need to be more creative in your approach, but where to begin? Here’s a thought that provides a starting point for ideas that will break the marketing mould.

What would happen if you started with a media budget of a big, fat zero?In the new landscape we find ourselves in, we need to find ways of being part of, and adding value to, people’s lives. We need to stop shouting at them, interrupting them and marketing to them. And we certainly need to stop calling them the rather bovine “consumer”. Instead, we need to concentrate on being interesting. If we’re interesting then we’re making people laugh, we’re making people think, we’re being genuinely useful.

Starting with the premise of no media budget will force interesting thinking, what can we create that will get talked about? How do we encourage our existing customers to become evangelists? Ideas generated in this way will focus on what will really inspire people to love you. The suggestion is not that you keep your media budget set at zero, rather it is to start that way as a method to disrupt the status quo and get something interesting going on.

You’ll end up discussing ideas way beyond the traditional scope of marketing and agencies. But that doesn’t matter because we’re in the ideas business. And ideas don’t care about channels until they have to. This is, of course, the true meaning of integration. Find an interesting thought and then find ways to deliver a consistent take-out from the strands of activity.

So let’s turn the gloom into ideas, integration and interestingness. That is what will bring economic growth. 

James Devon is Planning Director of MBA

MBA is a member of the MCCA 

020 7535 3550


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