The economy is changing, the way we do business is changing and marketing is changing together with them. As an engineer, I don’t see marketing as an art, but it does contain artistic elements
We spoke with Miloje Sekulić, former editor of E-Magazine and one of the co-owners of the Homepage Creative. Digital., about what marketing looks like in the time of isolation and when everything came to a standstill.
How did you organize your business activities in the agency considering the situation and working with clients who are stuck in their homes? Have you ever worked remotely or have you implemented certain novelties recently?
We have never used remote work much, except with our suppliers such as developers or colleagues who help us with writing. In our agency, we focus on energy and emotion, which cannot be conveyed unless you are face-to-face. But, these days, we all gather on Zoom from 9:30 to 9:45, have coffee and talk, but not about business. We have slowly started to do the remote way of doing business with clients too.
So, how does that look in practice in terms of your clients? Is online communication now better?
I’m an old school guy when it comes to agency work. Prior to this situation, we used to put everything in writing and write a polite email before a meeting. We saved everything in Google Drive Docs so it was pretty easy to adjust. Now, we have flexible working hours. There is software that shows who is logged in and available for meetings. Some people volunteer. Even in the current situation, when the economy has slowed down, we are still operative and keep sending new offers abroad. The biggest danger these days is the danger of contagion in the virtual space, i.e. from viruses in it.
We all watch a lot of television, although the recommendation is that we only watch one TV channel, use one social medium and one print medium. What will campaigns look like now? We are currently in a transitional period and we can see that most of the TV ads are those for pharmaceutical and FMCG products. What will the world of marketing look like after this?
The real question is what is the world in general going to look like because it is definitely changing. The economy is changing, the way we do business is changing and marketing is changing together with them. As an engineer, I don’t see marketing as an art, but it does contain artistic elements. It is a supra-business activity that should support business and various human activities. None of us has prophetic abilities, but we do hope that we will go back to normalcy as soon as possible and with as fewer victims as possible. There is a line in the movie „Jurassic Park“ that goes: “Life always finds the way.“
For instance, it is questionable if we should present something like Easter Bunny and eggs in this situation. But, then again, Easter is embedded in the foundation of the Christian civilization and it can communicate quite nicely a positive message, like how many babies are born in Serbia every day. I wrote an article just before this crisis in which I talk about things that were good to communicate at that moment. You cannot aggressively offer products because there is no demand, but there are a lot of CSR activities that can be done. We will not be able to work in the same way, with the same messages and premises as we did before the crisis. Six months ago, we were communicating with certain people, and now we are communicating with those same people but with a changed consciousness. In the light of our message ‘Stay Home Homepagers’, we share pictures of us working from home.
You are also building a team spirit and encouraging your staff. How do you spend your private time during the pandemic?
Team spirit is not only being built in companies but in a wider context too. I have a rule now whereby I call every day one person from that group of „I am going to call them soon and I never do“ people. I also went back to yoga and I enjoy the Sun salute the most. I am working a lot because I love it and we, at the company, are trying hard to open up new markets and have a wider picture of everything. I think I have never worked this much. In my micro-world, I try to convey optimism, but not unfounded one, and avoid fake information which is dangerous to the core. Also, I am getting ready for the time that will come soon.
What will you do first after the state of emergency and pandemic are over?
I lived through the wars in the 1990s in a quite dramatic way because my father was an army officer in Sarajevo. Since I live in Dorćol, the first thing I am going to do is to go to a local bar, the one where I can sit outdoors, have coffee, play with my dog Andrija and visit my family and friends. As my friend, who works in the pharmaceutical industry, warns – we cannot go wild after the state of emergency is over. The virus will be still lurking around. We must not get euphoric. Life, business and marketing will all change. Marketing will be more result-oriented. I think we have let ourselves go a bit too much, i.e. we did everything too broadly. We did campaigns for campaigns’ sake, we gave out awards for awards’ sake… In the future, the focus will be on results, efficiency, performance marketing and supporting businesses which will be terribly shaken by all of this, if not brought to their knees. There is a really good book that I am currently reading called „Find Your Why“, written by Simon Sinek. It’s more of psychoanalysis than a book. It poses important questions such as – “What’s your personal ‘why’?”, “What’s yours ‘why’ at work?” and “What is the ‘why’ of the team in the organization you work for?” That’s is something that each of us should ask ourselves in this situation.