Published in Jan-Feb 2021
Every time Lady Corona visits, she has a way of bringing long hidden principles to the surface. Here are 21, in no particular length or order, as you mull the year ahead.
1. Our senses are our instruments to receive reality. But when it comes to creativity, we shouldn’t discount what we cannot ‘receive’ traditionally. Creativity is a tuning into; a means to receive what may be beyond the reception of most people.
2. Mistakes, failures and problems happen all the time. But a mistake is something we learn from. I did it wrong, I’ll do better next time. A marketing failure is a mismatch between what is built and the market. A problem almost always is an invention in disguise. An invitation to discovery.
3. There are only four ways to rank an agency. Creative-based. Service-based. Values-based. And, debased. It’s up to us to choose our reputation.
4. To learn – and not to do – is not to learn. We grow our skill sets best through action, reflection and participation.
5. Remember the two kinds of power: To get what you want through payment and coercion is a hard power. They are deployed all the time. To get what you want through attraction and persuasion is a soft power. It’s where advertising is deployed.
6. You have maps, and you have compasses. When you are navigating new terrain, a compass is more useful than a map. Because you first need to know why you want to go somewhere before you can work out how to get there.
7. Here is another way to think about marketing: First, find insights. Then, build those insights into opportunities. Turn those opportunities into stories. Expand those stories into compelling experiences. Take a bow.
8. And while on the subject, let’s never forget that it’s the market that dictates what matters – not the marketing.
9. Real progress is not achieved by guardians of morality but by mad men, hermits, heretics, dreamers, rebels and sceptics. Stupidity is filled with certitudes. Those with any degree of imagination are filled with doubts, anxiety and a potentially lethal dose of self-loathing.
10. But... doom happens; gloom is a choice.
11. Loyalty is ill-defined and often compared to a canine trait. But true loyalty is a by-product of convenience + resonance. Great brands don’t only make life easier for their customers, they strike a chord with them too.
12. Marketing communicates brand values and demonstrates human values. We are responsible for both. Not only what is inside the bottle, but the effect of the stories we tell on the outside.
13. Truth is its own proof. Truth works because it earns trust. Trusted brands are a facet of what it means to be authentic.
14. Hard choices = Easy life; Easy choices = Hard life.
15. Less really is more. Simplicity is a leading indicator of intelligence and competence. Put another way: Overstuffed = Under-explained.
16. Today, it is more important to have a point of view than to have a point of difference. Whatever you are selling, build rituals and language around it. Go beyond features and create an emotional process around its use. If it is a charity, the act of donating is more than writing a cheque (throw a ball). If it is a sneaker, focus on how to enjoy your place in the human race.
17. Here’s a great plug by Seth Godin: “Culture… is how we act, based on what we know about who we are.”
18. Don’t fit in. People don’t hire you or buy from you, or choose to recommend you because you are indifferently average, wonderfully benign or conveniently well-rounded. They do it because you are exceptional at something. What if your energy was directed to become even more exceptional at what sets you apart, at what helps you to not fit in?
19. Don’t just talk rack rate prices. This means you have commoditised what you do. Always use value as an anchor to offer what your services can do for your client, not how much it will cost them.
20. Cheap and popular is a race to the bottom. The problem is that you might win. What would happen if you made something important, breathtaking or wonderful? The race to the top is not only more satisfying – it is also more likely to work.
21. Lastly, be ambitious for work, not reward. Some people say that if you steal their credit, you steal their cash. Let credit seekers find you as the source from where they get their credit. Rivers, after all, don’t drink their own water. Trees don’t eat their own fruit. You have to be the conduit for whatever it is that you were born to give. So give and let live.
Faraz Maqsood Hamidi is CE & CD, The D’Hamidi Partnership.