What steps has your agency taken to remain operational during the COVID-19 crisis?
We’ve focused on being both incredibly proactive and optimistic. We worked quickly to understand what our new financial reality would be as certain clients went into crisis mode, but also prioritized supporting all of our clients through the crisis with strategy, creative solutions to the challenges they were facing, and moving production budgets toward animation, etc. We were also quick to get our team set up at home, ensure everyone was safe and informed, and adjust our meeting rhythm to accommodate for the new reality. We’ve remained optimistic since day one, knowing that our clients need creativity to guide them through the crisis. It takes brave ideas to imagine a different path forward and that’s exactly what energizes our team.
What have you learned to do better during this time (as an agency)?
We’ve learned to communicate even better and limit unnecessary meetings. Without the quick conversations and in-person brainstorms that would happen in the office, setting expectations and communicating clearly with each other has been a huge priority. It’s also really easy to fall into a trap of spending all day on Zoom/Slack, but we’ve really worked to make sure we’re eliminating random meetings to make more time for focused work and moments of connection/culture virtually (Zoom happy hours, team workouts, etc).
What have you learned to do better during this time (as an individual)?
It’s been great connecting deeply with our clients and helping them navigating this time, offering strategy and support. We’ve learned a lot more about the brands we work with and our clients as people during the crisis. I’ve also had to be more diligent in structuring my day, balancing client work, agency operations, and making sure to connect individually with team members.
How have you responded to the changes in your client’s business strategy?
For our clients who’ve been impacted significantly, we’ve worked with them to adjust timelines as necessary. It’s been heartbreaking to see the impact on our partners in the tourism and hospitality industry. We’re passionate about travel and will continue to work with our clients in this space to make sure we can all return to the places we love. For many of our other clients, it’s about quickly understanding how the pandemic and new regulations have affected their business, developing near-term strategies, and shifting priorities to ensure we’re partnering on the right efforts. We’ve gotten creative with live production budgets and marketing spend, thinking about the best ways for each brand to connect and move forward.
In what ways has quarantine sparked your creativity?
It’s been interesting to see the shift in ways we create. We’ve adapted, but it’s certainly had its ups and downs. We’ve monitored how creativity is happening across our team every week, and talked collectively about how we can support each other. Creativity needs inputs, and those have almost all changed during this time. We’ve worked to find new ways to input experience, inject inspiration, or find perspective while staying safe at home so that we can output great creative work. I find that creativity comes in the small moments of reflection more often. You have to observe, listen, and consider more, and find creativity in unexpected places. The moments of serendipity that would happen in person have been hard to replicate, but I’ve been incredibly proud of our team’s resiliency and creativity remotely.
How do you stay productive at home? (aka: kids, school, spouse, laundry)
It’s been a huge adjustment. Initially, it felt like I was on 24/7 as the line between work and home blurred during the week and then weekends became big projects around the house. I’ve had to set mental and physical boundaries, and get better with unplugging when I need it. It’s easy to fill your days with things you need to accomplish, but I’ve been finding that it’s just as important to drop everything for an hour or a day and be present. This is unlike anything any of us have ever experienced, and we can lot from stepping back and sitting with our experience or imagining what the path forward looks like. I try to limit my time with the news or social, because it’s easy to spiral there. Ultimately, the biggest blessing has been more time with my wife and kids. The time as a family has been a silver lining I’ll never forget.
What’s the funniest thing that has happened in the background of your zoom session?
A lizard ran into my bedroom during a client call and I had to turn off the mic/camera and chase it around the room and back out the door.
Given our current circumstance, what opportunities do you foresee for yourself or agency that can provide solutions?
I believe creativity is a superpower for businesses right now, and there’s never been a better time to be an Adventurous Brand. By connecting our clients to what they believe and building strategy around that vision, we’re seeing the brands we work with act with more authenticity and purpose. Second, great brands create belonging. We’ve worked with our clients to find new ways to create connection with customers and employees, and imagine where their brand continues to belong in the landscape. Finally, brave ideas always win. We help brands navigate a shifting landscape, and especially now, that’s true of how we’re partnering with clients. From storytelling to digital experience to service innovation and everything in between, we’re bringing brave ideas to the brands we work with that will shape their changing future.
Looking to the future, how do you see the marketing landscape shifting?
You’re going to see massive changes in the way people are marketed to. People are even more protective of their time now and don’t want to be sold anything they’ve not already communicated they’re interested in. Even then, brands need to think about how they’re showing up in customers’ lives and working to create value or experience instead of adding to the noise. Frankly, brand is going to matter more now. If you’re not communicating how your customer belongs to your vision and what you believe is possible with your product/service, you’re going to be irrelevant. You need to bring people into your story or experience with authenticity, and brand is the vehicle to build that relationship. Finally, I hope we’re going to see a wave of brands considering sustainability as a fundamental part of doing business. Not just environmental sustainability, but how are they creating a sustainably positive impact on their customers, employees, community, and planet.
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