Being there means your brand cares.

March 23, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

A client looked me in the eyes this week and told me, “Michael, it’s better to be fast and wrong than slow and right.”

I think it was directional in nature. Still, it was quite a statement. It’s conceding that the speed needed to move at in today’s business environment is reaching a pace of acceptable recklessness.

Woody Allen said something like, “99 percent of success in life is showing up.” Not sure if it’s exactly how he said it, but you get the point: you don’t have to be perfect, just raise your hand and be counted all the time. That’s harder these days as there are so many places to be.

Reminds me of how my mother forced me to go to kindergarten even when I was absolutely dying from excruciating, intolerable, at-the-doors-of-death-pain with a tummy-ache. I didn’t do much schoolwork that day but the important part (to my mom and teacher – you can say, my customers) was that I was marked present. And being there, even physically wounded, counted more than being fully mentally present.

Today’s marketing environment is a great deal about brands being here and there. And these days, with the proliferation of .coms, social sites, applications, and meet-ups, there are so many more parties where one needs to be seen that you could well show up underdressed. What’s a brand to do?

The perfectionist’s motto, “measure twice, cut once,” has become: “cut, oops, cut better, oops, cut, repeat constantly, just keep cutting.”

Why such a rush? Is it worth it? Our successful customer is saying “Yes.” Because consumers have a seemingly all day and night hunger for content and they demand to be served promptly and frequently with constant feedback and the occasional coupon.

Like any close and good relationship, brands and consumers don’t get caught up in the small stuff. Mistakes are overlooked and, because we do move so fast, they are forgotten in a matter of several tweets.

Are we saying that quality isn’t as important as quantity? This makes me queasy but I think so. Quantity is taking precedence because touching all those touch points means you’re there for me in all these places, all the time, and the sum is: you care.

Now, of course, some mistakes are more grievous than others. Be sensible as you speed along, but keep that speedometer pressing on the red as we head to another party at which to be seen.

When he protested that Macintosh wasn’t ready yet to launch, Guy Kawasaki was assured by Steve Jobs, “Don’t worry, be crappy.” They launched and they made it better on the run. Quite a run it’s been.

So here’s the dress code: even if slightly untucked here and there, make sure your brand shows up. Often.

In other words, “Get your business out of bed and get out there right this instant or else!”

Just like momma said.


What is creative?

November 10, 2009

By Michael Mark, Creative Director & CEO @ NYCA

The first question I ask all NYCA candidates in all departments is this question, right after what they are passionate about. Makes for a good conversation and lets them know two things: that they are responsible for being creative and the answer “something cool” will get them a job next door. Not here.

For us the answer is simple. Not easy mind you. It’s what the agency is built on.

NYCA strategyWe create growth in the marketplace. So any idea or execution that is powerful enough to help that to happen is creative.  It’s not about pretty pictures, not about engagement, or the plan, or the insight or even if we like it or the client thinks it great. All those are roads to getting to the destination for sure. But it’s about the growth.

Now much as we think and sweat over them not every idea is what we call a grow! idea. The odds are stacked against each one as it struggles for life. Compassionate as we are with each other – you have to be if you’re going to be so tough on ideas – we are merciless when it comes to a grow! idea. 

Here’s a check list to see if you have the makings of one:

To be grow! work it must be powered by a message that is highly relevant to the target.

It must be true to the core values of the brand/product/service.

It must be executionally inspired.

If you get all yeses you have a well intentioned grow! idea. And once it performs dramatically well in the marketplace then you have creative. 

Simple. Impossible. It’s what we do.