Cape Town and its “clicks”

We’ve just celebrated the third year of Flume’s being in Cape Town; the Cape Town where there are no clients, where creatives freelance and where there is an endless number of agencies just like yours.

In the build-up to our expansion to Cape Town, we were met with all sorts of scepticism and preconceptions as to how things work, and work differently in the Mother City, from a business and a personal perspective. The irony, at least from what I’ve found, is that some good human and work basics transcend and blast all those preconceptions to bits.

In the past three years, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with some highly reputable brands here in Cape Town, which include:

  • Old Mutual: Digital Marketing Strategy, Digital Media Buying, Content Production, Social Media Support, Website Development and more;
  • Adidas: Social Media Content Production;
  • PEP: Creative Concepting and campaign work;
  • Bosch Car Service: Website development and media buying;
  • Cape Town Tourism: Digital Marketing Strategy, UX design for their website;
  • Astron Energy (which includes Caltex): Digital Marketing Strategy, Social Media Support and Development and Hosting; and
  • Nedgroup Investments: Direct Marketing (Email and SMS), SEO, Media Buying and Content Production.

By no means do we possess a full hedge of sales ninjas, taking names as we attempt to make a mark here in Cape Town. Actively pursuing sales has actually been an area that we’ve been poor at, and which admittedly does need some attention. But I believe that, apart from some good, old-fashioned good fortune, there are a few aspects that may have contributed to our having made it to this point:

1. Don’t Pee in The Pool – Compliments of Seth Godin          

“For generations, people dumped crap into the Hudson River. The river was so large and so swift that they assumed that the effluent wouldn’t come back to haunt them.

Of course, it did, killing the oyster beds and poisoning the public.

How big does a body of water have to be before we forget that we’re swimming in it; That it all comes around…?”

In an industry that is ruled by personal preference and biases, this blurb rings true. It’s probably a good idea to make sure you don’t do anyone in, that keep your emotions in check and make sure you work on those “good impressions” as one quickly realises the advertising industry is small, and even smaller if you look at cities specifically.

“It turns out that the pool/river/tub that we live in is far smaller than it seems. The culture of the places we work at, the vibe of the community where we live. It’s all more connected than we realise.”

2. You’re in the “servicing biz”

Digital advertising is rooted in the service industry. Yes, we deliver products such as creative pieces and campaigns, but the majority of a digital advertising agency’s offerings are service based.

Why that is important is because it implies that our success as an agency should probably not be based on our ability to deliver a product so much as our ability to meet a brand’s needs and deliver a high level of service, on a consistent and ongoing basis.

In all the agency reviews I’ve sat in, significant pieces of creative and memorable campaigns have been aired, but the bulk of the discussion focuses on service; the ability to meet deadlines, chemistry, individual’s skills, innovative thinking, and more. However, from an employee to an agency level, what we as agencies pride ourselves on are the actual products we deliver, and naturally so, as it’s those products that we show off to get new business.

I believe it’s somewhere in this conflict that we, as Flume, have been given opportunities with big brands and capitalised on them, as brands’ bigger agencies focussed on what they were delivering, leaving the door open for us to service the hell out of the mundane.

3. Let your “Yes” be your “Yes” and your “No” sometimes also be a “Yes”

This is probably an extension of point two, but be it an agency or one of your employees, when push comes to shove and your back is up against the wall, you look for people that you can count on to jump into the trenches alongside you. It’s not something that comes from encouragement or that gets developed, it’s a quality that is inherent to an employee’s being or is present in the makeup of your service provider.

You can pay anyone to do what they are meant to do, but it’s being dependable time and time again that makes you irreplaceable in an industry where everything is replaceable.

From personal experience in an industry full of dreamers, smooth talkers, reputation and eccentricity is often what gets you in the door but not what keeps you around, as there is always another ad agency with a great idea knocking your current client’s door.

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