Holland-Mark 2K10: Capital “M” Marketing in the Imperative Economy

by Holland-Mark | December 30, 2009

Turns out we had a pretty good 2009 here in the ‘Mark, and closed the year stronger than any of us expected. We’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on this momentum, and on what seems to be working for clients and resonating with prospects. A strategy has come into focus around these ideas, and it’s going to have a big impact on our direction going forward.

So what can you expect from us in 2010?

Well, while we’re still going to call ourselves an “agency,” it’s just so folks have a box to put us in. The truth is we’re becoming something very different than that.

Now… I know you hear that from every advertising agency these days. Next time you do, ask whether they’ve actually turned down opportunities to create advertising for paying clients. We have, and I must say it’s been pretty liberating.

We’ve done this not because we think advertising is dead, although that makes better copy than the truth. We’ve done it because we think advertising is the wrong place to start.

The Imperative Economy

We start with an observation. It is that people — in both their business and personal lives — are only spending money on what they consider imperative. Think about how your own behavior has changed over the course of he Gateway Recession. When was the last time you plunked down the Platinum card on something that was just interesting, or even something with just the potential to influence your life? I bet it’s been a while. We buy what we need now, and it’s the same for the spending decisions we make on the job in the “B2B” marketplace.

Becoming imperative has become imperative. And doing so isn’t about “small-m” marketing, meaning, primarily, outbound marketing communications. Good advertising can make a product more interesting, no doubt. But it cannot make it imperative. “Consumers” — as we used to call them — decide what is imperative, and they communicate with each other at a volume and frequency that drowns out all but a very few deep-pocketed commercial entities.

Reality Is Perception

The implication of this is significant: Where once you could focus on driving the product reality by shaping market perception, now you must also gather market perception to shape the product reality.

What I’m saying is what we all know… that Marketing needs to step up, put the crayons down for a bit, and take a seat at the grown-up table. Getting the topline moving in the Imperative Economy will take more than advertising. It will take “big-M” Marketing, meaning a willingness to tackle the substantive issues related to:

  1. the relevance of your offering,
  2. the clarity of your message,
  3. the consistency of your communication, and
  4. your ability to drive engagement among a group of brand advocates large enough to support your business.

Holland-Mark’s Role

We think our job is to help clients establish that cycle… to “corrupt” their vision with the external reality. In a nutshell, Holland-Mark helps businesses connect with, respond to, and benefit from the truth about their customers, products, and brand relationships.

If you come across someone who needs that — and who recognizes the need to change more than just their tagline to achieve it — please drop us a line. In the meantime, we’d love to hear what you think about our conclusions, our approach, and our prospects.

Look for more details soon right here. Be sure and subscribe to our blog if you’re interested.