It’s hard to put words to the last 30 days.
I’m not even going to try and do it.
The best we can do is put on our problem-solving hats and partner with our stakeholders and clients to navigate the unchartered.
The technical skills required haven’t changed over the past month. Technological innovation on the marketing side won’t stop. No, now isn’t the best time for a 30-minute demo of your cutting edge tool.
What must change is the self-awareness of the brands we work for. Our tone needs to change. And our strategic and tactical guidance needs to change because of that.
Our soft skills as marketers lead us now more than ever. There’s been so much made of the importance of EQ; now is the time for those skills to shine.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s where we are focusing.
It’s Time to Really Listen
Stop multitasking. Stop checking yourself out on Zoom. Be honest with yourself.
That’s a great start. Seriously, it will make a huge difference.
The best marketers set themselves apart through their ability to listen, interpret, reflect, and then take action. More importantly, they pick up what’s not explicitly said and turn that into questions and directives for next steps.
You may hear the message on the other end, but are you really listening? Time to start.
Lead With Empathy
This shit is hard on so many levels.
The news changes daily. The timespan is unknown. Consumers aren’t sure what to do. Marketers aren’t sure what to do either. Budgets and forecasts are formulated, scrambled, and then formulated again. And again. And again.
Get used to it for the next couple of months.
It’s taxing for everyone. Acknowledge that. Providing empathy helps create comfort and the feeling of a safe space.
It’s way easier to work in a safe environment. You’ll get more out of yourself, your team, and your stakeholders by creating that safety.
Over Communicate. Then Communicate Again.
There is so much information to process right now. The endless news cycle has infiltrated our jobs and our lives; any prior separation of those is gone, for the time being.
More than ever, clear and honest communication is key.
In presenting options to stakeholders, focus on the short term but keep the long term in mind. Layout all of the positive outcomes that could come from a new campaign or initiative, but make sure to clearly outline all of the drawbacks that could come as well. Leaving information off the table is irresponsible at best.
I’m willing to bet that your plans 30 days ago have changed, and your plans in 30 days will be different from what they are today.
Get used to it.
Harnessing agility could be your strongest tool, and I promise you’ll be able to tell what brands have it and those that don’t.
Embrace fluidity, and if you become a partner who can change and navigate quickly, you’ll become invaluable to your stakeholders.
Put Your Stakeholder First
Let’s talk about stakeholders. In the agency world, our key stakeholders are our clients. Regardless of what marketing position you find yourself in, a stakeholder is someone who has some degree of decision-making ability in your workflow.
Put their needs first.
Make them look smart, even if it means short-term pain for you. It will pay off in the long run for both of you.
In the last 30 days, we’ve recommended action that directly led to revenue coming off of our P&L statement. We did it because it was the right recommendation for our clients’ needs.
I promise you that our relationships with those clients are stronger than ever.
It’s About Building Trust
All of this is aimed to build trust; through listening, communicating, empathy, and agile decision-making. We need more of this right now.
Ian Lurie, Portent’s founder, has a saying that’s stuck with me since I started here.
“It’s better to be trusted than liked.”
I love it.
It’s something that I think more people should hear, think about, and try to adopt. Honing the soft skills drives at the core of building trust. And as we work to market—or appropriately not market—in today’s environment, it’s more important than ever.