#MarketingExcellenceAwards spills: That Marketing Guy on marketing in 2021

That Marketing Guy wants to create purpose for its clients by creating value and effecting positive change in their communities. The agency, run by founder Will Lee, walked away with the silver for clients HOOQ in the Excellence in Experimental Marketing category at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's recent Marketing Excellence Awards 2020.

According to the company, it aims to work with brands to help them find their purpose, to help them evolve into brands that engage instead of transact; has advocates instead of customers; and profit as a byproduct instead of an outcome.

“Good marketing accelerates this vital transformation: We see empathy and authenticity as the building blocks of brands, and these values stem from within the organisation and permeates through the entire business. That, as well as being just the right amount of obsessed with nurturing long-term relationships with the customer,” said the agency.

We speak to founder Will Lee on his 2021 ambitions. 

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series for Marketing Excellence Awards 2020. To find out more about the awards, click here. 

What are some of the expectations your clients now have for your agency?

Lee: It is no longer sufficient to have a traditional agency model of simply answering a brief as a specialist or expert. Our clients expect us to handle both the strategy and execution as well as to plug any knowledge gaps they might have regarding the digital space. Hence, we cultivate a generalist culture within our team to deliver seamless campaigns from start to finish to achieve our clients’ objectives.

We’ve always prioritised providing a sense of calm in managing our clients’ marketing needs. This helps to build trust that allows us to iron out any disparities in their marketing efforts. As the landscape is constantly changing in the digital sphere, we are in a constant pursuit of improvement to push boundaries. For more conservative clients, we gradually educate them on best practices for the platforms their marketing strategies exist on, to create a well-concerted strategy.

How has your marketing/your clients’ marketing plans shifted this year?

Lee: Due to the pandemic, some of our clients have had their marketing budgets cut. We’re understanding of their situation and continue to find solutions for them. To do this without compromising on quality, we are more outcome oriented and utilise our creativity to achieve the optimal traction by using more data-driven approaches to deliver focus and improve marketing returns.

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

Lee: Part of our long-term philosophy has always been to use cutting edge technology to solve problems within our organisation and for our clients. We’ve been working on cloud since day one and continue to implement platforms like Slack for communication, Basecamp for project management and Swingvy for HR matters whenever they’re available and fit our needs.

Despite being tech savvy, we will continue to keep humans at the heart of what we do, especially with tasks that cannot be outsourced to machines, such as conceptualising and strategising. Our management spends a significant amount of time devising frameworks that can aid in knowledge transfer as our company expands. We’ve always been tinkering with new technologies even before COVID-19 started. We got onto Basecamp in Q4 last year and Slack in January this year. When the circuit breaker was announced, it wasn’t hard for us to adapt. Ultimately, by prioritising building trust within the team and with our clients, we’re pretty future-proof for 2021 and beyond.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Lee: International brands have noticed the drastic changes in consumer behaviour during the past decade and pivoted their efforts as such. Millennial consumers especially, do not enjoy feeling like they’re being marketed to and rather be part of a cause or movement.

Great marketing should articulate a brand’s story and values which will resonate with Millennials who will become strong advocates of the brand.

More than ever today, the line between marketing and content is blurring. Great marketing in 2021 requires elements of storytelling, relatability and have to be able to speak to audiences with shorter attention spans. Every piece of marketing also needs to be tailor made for separate platforms and should be timely in responding to trends. A great example is the work Burger King does internationally. They understand their position in the market and the audience they are talking to. With that, they’ve created a timely and sensitive campaign of buying from their competitors to support workers during this difficult year.

How are you planning for 2021?

Lee: Many companies are still trying to overcome barriers of going digital. There are plenty of things to relearn and we’re happy to help with that. In fact, we’re going to be even more customer obsessed in terms of the services we provide. Internally, we are reorganising our job roles to give our employees more autonomy to grow in terms of their career. We’re being intentional in terms of gearing up for the next growth stage of our business to attain stronger industry validation amongst our peers by winning awards and with greater community participation.