Happy New Year!
Looking back at last year, it feels like 2022 started with a bang and ended with a whimper. While I am eternally grateful that the world has mostly been able to return to “normal” after all the dislocations of the pandemic, the new normal is not the same as the old normal, and it is starting to feel a little more challenging than many people expected. With higher interest rates and recession fears hitting the financial economy, and higher inflation and layoffs starting to bite in the real economy, not to mention political tensions in the U.S. and abroad, the sense of uncertainty about 2023 and beyond is palpable.
At Allied, our live entertainment and hospitality clients are enjoying the resurgence in travel and in-person experiences, while most of our major studio and streaming clients are re-evaluating their business models in one way or another. Ironically, this is practically the opposite of 2020-2021. The resulting restructurings are not limited to cost-cutting (though that has gotten a front-row seat lately), but also includes pricing, theatrical windows, advertising tiers, content investment and licensing, distribution partnerships, international strategy and more.
Our Strategic Consulting practice works with clients on all these types of questions, and the answers will depend on each company’s starting point and end goals. We also regularly turn the strategy lens on ourselves, so what I’d like to share today is what has worked for Allied as an agency over the last few years, and why I think our strategic approach remains relevant. I hope you can find parallels in your business or career.
The Four Strategic Pillars that Support Allied’s Strategy
- Focus – Years ago a business school professor told me, “People think strategy is about what you choose to do, but it’s just as much about what you choose not to do.” At Allied, we provide a wide range of marketing solutions, including strategy, creative and paid, earned and owned media. But we focus on customer segments that we know well, which are entertainment, culture and lifestyle brands. Having industry focus enables us to truly understand our clients’ businesses, which allows us to develop campaigns that drive results. I’ve heard there’s good money in pharma marketing, but it wouldn’t fit our expertise, and just as important, our culture.
- Performance – No, we’re not talking about karaoke night (though Allied staff could put together a pretty good talent show). Performance means that our campaigns get measurable results, from the top to the bottom of the marketing funnel. In tougher times when every dollar counts, this is critical. Performance isn’t just a report at the end, but must be designed into the campaign from the start, and requires all elements of the campaign to be working together – which brings us to our next point…
- Integration – As noted above, Allied provides a full suite of marketing services. But putting more things on the menu is the easy part. Making everything work well together takes effort, both in terms of our campaigns and our organization, but that effort pays off. When all elements of the campaign, including strategy, creative, paid, earned and owned media, are working in tandem and feeding each other and the campaign’s KPIs, your results go from good to great.
- Globalization – Remember that VISA tagline, “Everywhere you want to be”? That’s what we aim to provide to our clients. In its early years, Allied started out doing entertainment marketing on a local basis in one city, then expanded to create a U.S.-wide network of offices to do local marketing on a national scale. We have since expanded our range of services and are now offering them on a global basis, with international offices in Toronto, London, Dublin and Sydney, as well as a Latin American hub in Miami. We didn’t do it because we like more time zones and jet lag. We did it because that’s where our clients are headed, from theatrical films to streaming to video games, and being able to solve problems for them across multiple territories is a source of competitive differentiation.
When things are changing around you, it’s good to assess what you need to change, and what principles are foundational and should be reinforced. At Allied we rely on our industry expertise, performance approach, integrated solutions and global network to drive our business and deliver results for our clients. We think in a changing world, that’s more valuable than ever.