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Industry Contributor 19 Aug 2020 - 4 min read

Out with the new business rulebook - new world, new game

By Anita Zanesco, Head of New Business - Havas Creative Group

For many the dawning of 2020 was met with excitement. A new decade always brings hopes of future success. For agencies, the industry was moving at pace with the challenge of new technologies emerging every month and the excitement of clients buying into new ways to connect with consumers and integrate their brands into culture and entertainment.

The bushfires in Australia were a devastating start to our year but only brought out the best in the marketing and communications industry with everyone working together to help struggling communities.

But then COVID-19 hit. No-one predicted it. No-one would have imagined the devastation it would, and continues to, cause globally. Few of us in our industry would have ever experienced the double whammy of a health crisis combined with an economic crisis and everyone was on a steep learning curve to manage the crisis both internally and with clients.

Wind the clock forward 4 months and we see some agencies starting to return to the office. Consultants and marketers alike say strong bonds between agencies and their clients have gotten stronger. Weak relationships have suffered. Agencies who have acted with empathy, engaged their clients, and worked alongside their clients to plan for a Covid-free future are in the envious position of having a solid relationship and a plan in place for 2020/21. But for those agencies who have struggled through this crisis internally and not paid attention to their clients who may have pulled marketing and been going through their own difficulties, there will be loss. And with losses at some agencies will come gains at others. So, the question arises, what does new business look like as we come out of this crisis?  

Cathy Li and Stefan Hall, in their World Economic Forum article of 8 June, quote the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s statistics that almost a quarter of media buyers, planners and brands have paused spending until the end of Q2.  They suggest 75% expect the pandemic to have a bigger impact than the 2008 financial crisis as marketers shift and cut their spend. Looking globally, advertising spend is falling in key markets and across most channels.

Combine this predicted cut in spend with key macro forces at play including a more digitally savvy and engaged consumer, an increased propensity to buy online, and a strong desire to buy local wherever possible, and agencies need to be set up to tackle new business in a rapidly evolving environment.

Throw out the New Business Rulebook. To win new business in the current climate, agencies will need to demonstrate understanding of a new cultural and competitive context; show appreciation for changed consumer behaviour across media and shopping channels; and be able to work efficiently and effectively with smaller budgets that need to work harder and smarter.

Based on that, here are just three tips I’ll be taking note of as we head into the second half of the year with a big new business push:

  1. Tell a powerful, coherent story – know what your agency stands for and do it better than ever before.  More than ever clients need clarity and reassurance when appointing an agency partner.
  2. Help marketers find ways to, well, keep marketing. Instinct will tell them to cut budgets, hibernate, stop advertising. Empirical evidence tells us they need to keep marketing, use the opportunity for great deals, a less competitive landscape and a more connected consumer to grow their brands and create momentum now to get ahead of competitors.  Agencies need to help marketers navigate the current landscape and use their knowledge, insight and creativity to find innovative ways to promote their brands and businesses.
  3. Where feasible, invest in bespoke research to understand how key industries have changed, how consumers are thinking and behaving, and how the economy is impacting the way marketers need to act. Use this, along with the insights and implications coming out of it, to help existing clients optimise their plans and as a tool to reach out to prospects.
With that in mind and no rule book for where we are right now, our new business strategy will see us moving forward with clarity, insight and knowledge, telling our story our way; a way that will connect with clients who are culturally aligned with our values and looking for an agency who can make their brands and businesses more meaningful and compelling to consumers, the community and the world at large.

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Anita Zanesco, Head of New Business

Havas Creative Group

Anita oversees New Business across the Havas Village in Sydney working closely with Host Havas, One Green Bean, Red Havas and Havas Media to help drive new business across each of the agencies and the Village, as a fully integrated offering.

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