Unrequited love. Long lost love. A little of both. That’s how I feel about the dearth of advertising work we’ve done here at Austin Lawrence since, well, the birth of the content marketing industrial complex.
For a time, I thought we were balancing left-brain and right-brain thinking. Then some weeks ago, I recorded a podcast episode with Melissa Rosenthal, chief creative officer at ClickUp, a SaaS that helps other companies organize their work.
Wait… CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER? WTF?
It was as if I awoke from a Rip Van Winkle-like dream state, where I hadn’t written an ad in 20 years. Might not be quite that long, but it’s been a while. Back in the day, we were one of top 125 or so B2B integrated marketing agencies in the US, with media buying as an integral service (and media billings in the millions).
Melissa is driving enormous results for ClickUp on the back of breakout creative. Not just advertising as it was practiced before (not at all, really), but infusing the interrupts that advertising must create with creative products that engage and attract potential buyers to learn more.
And the interview got me to thinking. Why aren’t we doing this for our clients? Using advertising principles to cut through the clutter to deliver our message to potential customers of our SaaS clients – those in-market (demand capture) and who could be soon (demand generation).
So, I’m planting a flag. We’re going to rebuild our capabilities in B2B advertising starting today. We’re online already, using Meta and LinkedIn native ad managers, but soon will be offering programmatic and ABM media buying through a demand-side platform.
We’ll use advertising (think video, direct mail, print and more – not just IAB ad units) to create interest in content, experiences and propositions that will spark healthy thinking and debate, and demand for our clients’ SaaS products. And we’ll infuse the advertising with creative that draws upon our history and legacy of award-winning and game-changing ads that helped our clients to sell, scale and exit (our client base has had more than $2 billion in total exits).
A short aside on the problem with generative AI
Creative is going to be more important than ever. The rise of AI-generated content will make everyone a content creator in much the same way that Canva makes everyone an art director. There’s an ocean of mediocrity coming your way over the next few years, and we’ll be one of the voices arguing that original ideas are the ones with value. Just to drive this point home a bit, the term “generative AI” means that it is providing content generated by revisiting the vast content it’s been trained on, to offer words that are “most likely to follow the preceding word” based on modeling nearly the entire Internet. It really should be called, “ruminative AI.” I don’t know about you, but when I write a tagline for a company that has ZERO search results on Google, it makes me smile to know I’ve had a thought that likely never occurred to anyone with a keyboard before. And by the way, this blog will be the first content on Google to include the term, “ruminative AI.” That’s twice in a week that I’ve added to the lexicon (the other is a tagline a client just started using – see www.square-9.com).
Sure, we will use ChatGPT like everyone else to gain some efficiencies in research and maybe even augment some of our idea generation. But don’t be fooled. Original ideas don’t come from robots. No matter how good your prompt engineering, ChatGPT won’t replace the power of the human mind to create connections where none existed before, and to pull at your heartstrings with copywriting that empathizes with your uniquely human condition.
So, flag planted. Watch this space. We’re going back to the future. We’ll be doing some breakout advertising to help B2B SaaS brands grow and we’d love to do it for you, too.