This is the final part in our Partnership Series. We hope you enjoyed each one, and please reach out if you have questions!
You've seen Mad Men. It's cool, it's clever. It has some insightful things to say about advertising.
But it's not the real world.
What it is is a bunch of white men giving a very specific, very rarified version of how they think the world works. For one thing, it was a zero-sum game. You won when someone else lost. Succeeding in business was about taking, not sharing. And, if you had a good idea, you patented it, or kept it a secret.
You might have gotten away with that kind of thing in the Fifties ... but the world has changed. Advertising, not so much.
Lucinda "Cindy" Lee Gallop is an English advertising consultant, founder and former chair of the US branch of advertising firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty, and founder of the IfWeRanTheWorld. She speaks frequently on entrepreneurship, business, and the paucity of diversity in the advertising community. She is the cool face of the advertising and marketing industry.
Her contention is that advertising has grown into such a stylish club that agencies are terrified of looking less cool. That is why they still believe in secret formulas, the mystique of celebrity. That is why most big agencies are still "Boys Clubs," at least at the senior level. Her answer: "Fear is the most paralyzing dynamic in both business and in life. You will never own the future if you care what other people think."
She has demonstrated over and over that breakthrough strategies come from having diverse teams, people who bring multiple "outside" points of view to a campaign. That's absolutely essential when traditional advertising is facing a crisis of confidence.
It's not a top down world of advertising any more: people don't trust what they see on TV or read in a magazine (if, indeed, anyone is still reading a magazine). They believe what they hear from friends, or from trusted online communities. Slogans and Spokespersons for a brand are less important than the "Buzz" the brand commands on Twitter. Oh, and Facebook. Have you heard about it?
Those marketing agencies that are willing to partner with clients through these challenging times are rare. It makes sense that some of the Early Adopters have been women. "Women challenge the status quo because we are never it."
One reason why New Media might not be getting the respect (or the budgets) of TV Commercials is that the new avenues aren't controlled by the Good Old Boys of networks and TV production companies. Ms. Gallop has something to say about that as well:
"Social media is simply a new methodology that allows women to do what we have been doing since the dawn of time, which is sharing the shit out of everything in a way that men don't. We are the gossipers, the talkers, the chatters, the recommenders, the advocates and the ambassadors. ... When brands say they are targeting men, I tell them to talk to women, because women will influence men more than men will influence other men."
Google understands this new dynamic, and rewards companies that make the web experience helpful and more useful. It's one way to see that advertising isn't just creating a more profitable world, it's creating a better world all around.
Entrepreneurs are, by definition, pioneers. They need to be able to focus on their Unique Value Proposition in the face of "Conventional Wisdom" to mark out a place of their own. What they need is a digital agency with that same willingness to Buck the System, helping them with their online community. How do you find this kind of partner? Look for someone who is willing to share ideas and insight. Take the Blog Postings that Top Floor makes available (please!). Or look for those of Cindy Gallop (you can find her TED Talks and other resources easily).
Don't be afraid of being challenged, that's what partners do. And don't expect a partner who looks like you, thinks like you: diversity is a gateway to the next new thing.
Above all, lose the ego that dominated the Bad Old World of advertising and business. We're not out to take: we're out to share success stories and grow not just our business, but the entire world.