A Town Hall Meeting of the Nashville Advertising Industry

This past Thursday, I was the moderator for a town hall discussion held by the American Advertising Federation on the current economic climate of the Nashville advertising industry. All those who attended participated in a passionate exchange of observations and advice on how to get through these tough times. Here’s my list of the top five things discussed:

1. Consumers are in control more than ever. Haven’t we heard this before? We all have been saying this for a several years; however, in our quest to chase profits we find ourselves being reminded of this simple principle. In a world where mass media has been replaced by personal media, listening to consumers is more relevant now than it’s ever been.

2. Marketers are adjusting their messages in an attempt to empathize with consumers current fears. In a world of bail-outs and an uncertain financial future, security and comfort can be found everywhere in advertising today. One such example is Nationwide Insurance, who has dropped their “Life comes at you fast” campaign and gone back to the long running theme, “Nationwide is on your side”.

3. Marketers must be careful not to sacrifice long-built brand equity or long-term strategies for achieving short-term gains. Everyone is offering discounts and deals never before seen in order to create the added value consumers are demanding (see #1 about listening to the consumer). But remember, value is not just about low prices. Added value can be achieved by providing more than what is expected. If a consumer feels they have received more than they paid, they’ll keep coming back and tell others!

4. There was a lot of discussion around the emerging role of social media and how it has affected other traditional media. The big take-away was probably this – consumers are still consuming media. Most importantly, consumers have changed the types of media they are consuming, and they’ve changed the way they consume all media. Again, less mass and more personal.

5. Ideas still matter – a lot. Bring people ideas (consumers, customers, clients) and you create value.

Do you have more ideas or suggestions worth sharing? Add to the list. This is new territory for all of us. The more we share the more we evolve.

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