From evolution to empathy, key strategies which will help in driving effective output for clients
By MA Parthasarathy
For most businesses, the COVID-19 crisis and the consequent lockdown has been a significant point of inflexion. While some practices and behaviours have been rapidly accelerated, several new practices and values have emerged. It is important to look at this both in the short-term – how to ensure maximum output during lockdown – and for the long term, in terms of lasting organisational change. This is especially true of our industry, which is completely dependent on people.
The past 10 weeks have been a revelation. We have seen tremendous initiative and some excellent work across categories. We have also seen resilience and stamina in the face of adversity. At the core of this, I believe, are 4 key strategies that are helping us drive effective output for our clients and shape the direction of Mindshare.
Media has always been one of the most rapidly evolving industry sectors. Few other industries would have evolved as much in the past decade as media, with the shifts in consumer behavior powering most of the change. But the lockdown has necessitated evolution that’s even more rapid and multi-dimensional. Our output is hinged on collaboration across diverse skill sets, and the ability to manage this collaboration remotely is perhaps the biggest and most rapid evolution of all. We launched a global weekly consumer research to detect shifts in behavior and attitudes. We created a COVID “Recovery Dashboard” monitoring over 10 parameters, from media consumption to pollution levels, to determine the recovery pattern of various industry sectors across different markets in India. We activated our partner network to enable new distribution channels for our client brands
There are many quotes on how a Crisis always presents an opportunity. One of the biggest opportunities emerging from this lockdown is the ability to enhance our knowledge and skill sets. Numerous bespoke training programs have been created in remarkable speed and deployed across the company. We have the privilege of a rich set of clients, who have engaged with us and shared their perspective on the crisis, and its implication for their industries. We have also engaged extensively with our partners across media, content, data and technology to understand their approach and plans.
In the new world of distributed and collaborative solutions, it is essential to empower our critical talent with the assets and the authority to make decisions that drive growth – both for the agency and for our client’s brands. We are fortunate to have an army of leaders across functions at Mindshare, who have driven multiple initiatives on their own accord. These include the creation of new products and partnerships, crafting unique business solutions for our clients and a whole host of activities that have boosted staff morale.
This is perhaps the most important of all. It is not so much a business strategy as it is a cultural reorientation. Everyone has been impacted deeply – consumers, brands, media partners, the agency and our teams. We believe the only way to emerge from this successfully, is for each party to appreciate the others’ position and work towards a collaborative solution. As the agency, we have to have a stronger sense of accountability for our clients’ business success than ever before. We need to have a keener understanding of our consumers and be more sensitive in the way we communicate than ever before. We need to collaborate better with our partners and create the best possible environment for our teams. In each of these engagements and all of these actions, the core driving principle is authenticity. This is a trial by fire, and our actions at this time will determine the relationships and success we will have in the future.
The author is CEO, Mindshare South Asia.