Recently, we were called in to help a small five-person marketing firm set up a new business system.

future of advertising

Isn’t it time to create a little luck?

After a day-long session, they decided that their “new” brand, something they had spent over a year working on, was out of touch with the realities of our rapidly changing market. After all that hard work they needed to go back and rework everything. Luckily we were able to help them and very quickly outlined a new brand for them. A little extra effort for us, but wasn’t it lucky we caught it before they went to market? But was it really just good luck? Or was it hard work?

Many ad agency leaders are sitting behind closed doors worrying about the sweeping changes we see throughout the industry. They’ve started to notice that the trend is not good. Many have questioned the future of advertising, the future of ad agencies, and wondered where it’s all heading. A few leaders have even complained publicly about the poor attitudes towards agency compensation and fees. Really, they are all bemoaning the loss of an era of advertising as we watch a new one being born. The simple fact is that in our rapidly changing world it really is true that “the only constant is change.” This is proving to be a real downer for many advertising agencies.

There is little anyone can do to control external industry-wide factors; all we can do is better prepare our agencies for change. Perhaps agencies can create a little luck and survive the sweeping changes along the way.

Create Your Own Good Luck

As we get closer to St. Patrick’s Day, it seems timely to discuss the so called “luck of the Irish.” As any student of history knows, there is very little lucky about the Emerald Isle. Two-thousand years of Viking, Norman, and English invasions, civil wars, wars between Catholics and Protestants, exploitation, starvation and mass emigration does not seem to indicate that the Irish had good luck. Yet this week we run around celebrating leprechauns, four-leaf clovers and finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

So why do we feel the Irish are lucky? It would appear that here in the United States, the Irish immigrants were able to move up the social ladder relatively quickly. Therefore, everyone just assumed they were lucky.

The reality of the rapid success of the Irish had little to do with luck. There are several traits that really benefited the Irish. And perhaps these same traits can help your advertising agency (even if you’re not Irish).

  • First, they networked through churches, fraternal and benevolent societies. They reached out to build networks to help find new opportunities, new leads, teach, learn and provide assistance to those less fortunate. So work hard to expand your network. Look around and find groups to expand your network and reach. Never hesitate to ask for help, and always reach out a helping hand. The return will be worth it.
  • Second, they knew how to sell. Blarney, or the gift of gab, is nothing more than putting a positive spin on any situation. Becoming masters of selling by using the gift of gab to win the hearts and minds of prospects is a great lesson for every agency today. Too many agencies go into a prospect meeting with that hint of desperation, of fear, of defeat, even before they pitch. The sweeping changes in our market have made everyone a little fearful. Understandable, given the industry, but nothing turns prospects off faster than desperation. Put a little Irish blarney in your pitch and you’ll likely win more business.
  • Third, the Irish were experts at branding, even if they didn’t do it deliberately. The Irish community in America projected a strong image: one of hard working, scrappy, perhaps with a bit of partying, and of course, very lucky individuals. They were known as the “Fighting Irish” and were not willing to sit back and wait for a handout. The long history of suffering didn’t matter. The hate and prejudice they encountered didn’t deter them. They went forth and fought for their friends and family to make a better life. They created a new image that was uniquely American. And the myth of Irish luck was born; created out of nothing more than hard work.

On this week of celebrating all things Irish, take to heart their lessons involving luck. Expand your network, reach out and offer a helping hand. Get out of the office and join some groups of like minded firms. Be positive about your agency. Refocus your brand on the positive changes. And keep working hard. Remember the old Irish proverb: “You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.”

Remember that luck is simply preparation meeting opportunity. That’s what the Irish did– they made their own luck. Instead of continuing to gripe about how the world of marketing is changing, prepare your agency, position it as positive about the changes and equipped to lead the charge. Your agency needs to be willing to work hard, help clients navigate the changes we all see, and to create new opportunities for growth.

We feel agency leaders need to get their heads around the facts, look over their brand and their service promise, take some lessons from the Irish, and generate a little luck. After all, it’s only by sheer luck any of us fools could ever succeed in this crazy industry. Now go tip a pint, and cheers!


Photo by Gismonda999