Ana Andjelic is the Group Strategy Director in New York-based Spring Studios, who have spent years in digital and traditional marketing agencies. She has Ph.D. in Sociology and M.A. in Media Studies, and in 2013, she was named Top 10 Digital Strategists to watch by The Guardian. In 2014, she was on the list of the World’s Top 50 planners to watch by The Planning Salon. Today, she’s talking to the Netocratic readers, and shares some of her very interesting insights into digital strategies and creativity. If you want to disrupt your business and become different, you might want to get out of your comfort zone as well as embrace passion!
Guess Who Came Up With The Name Hacker, Maker, Teacher, Thief?
Being part of Creative Social, Ana told us what a great pleasure for her was to work on this book and that she always enjoys projects where a lot of top marketing professionals around the world come together and share their thoughts and ideas.
It was great to work with Daniele Fiandaca and Gareth Key. They were lucky to have me, as I gave the book its final title. I would love that there were more books like this, or at least some quarterly compilation of everyone’s thoughts. It’s healthy for the industry.
As Ana explains, this book’s purpose is to show different ideas and diverse ways of solving problems. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone and exploring new ways to approach marketing and branding challenges today.
I hope it will inspire people who read it to think differently or at least to try something new.
Nurture Relationships With Innovators!
Reading about Ana, you can come across her two very interesting advices: Nurture relationships with innovators who are disturbing business and connect the agency with the wider digital ecosystem. As Ana explains, there is this approach in the organisational studies that talks about the “edges” – of an organisation, of a market, or of an industry. The “edge” here refers to things that happen outside the established structure and set of relationships.
For example, new organisational behaviours, or new forms of value exchange in a market, or new players in an industry are thought to come from the “periphery” or “edge” because they don’t play by the rules of an organisation, market or industry they are disrupting and because they are responding to needs of those who may have been neglected or not served sufficiently well by a certain market or industry.
Perfect Examples Of Disruptive Innovators
Ana shared examples of modern innovators:
AirbnB didn’t come from the hospitality industry, but from technology, and it is disrupting it from the edge. It doesn’t play by the rules of the hospitality industry and it is attracting those consumers whose needs haven’t been fulfilled by traditional hospitality.
Uber is a similar example and so is Netflix. By staying close to these innovators, we as marketers can understand where the future of an industry or a market is going, and be able to devise strategic and creative solutions for our clients so they don’t get to be surprised when the next AirbnB shows up at their doorstep.
Ana explains that the same principle applies to connecting your agency to a wider digital ecosystem made out of startups, consumers and their digital needs and behaviours, digital publications, and all those new things that are made on the Internet every day.
Digital Technology Turns Industries Upside Down
When talking about digital technology and its ability to turn industries upside down seemingly overnight Ana gave one perfect example:
The obvious example is the music industry, and more recently the entertainment content industry. Netflix has started creating and producing its own shows, like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black,” which turned out to be insanely successful. They won Emmy Awards, which actually are awards for achievement in television. Netflix is thus part of the TV industry, but at the same time, it is not, because it operates based on a completely different infrastructure, business model and value chain than the TV industry.
Digital Disruption Can Change a Business
Ana strongly believes the digital disruption can change businesses and adapt them to become stronger. We absolutely agreed with her when she said that big companies need to think like disrupters, rather than simply play defense if they want to change their businesses.
There is such thing as an organizational culture and organizational learning. If organizational leaders are nurturing culture of diverse thinking and if they are willing to learn things they are not familiar with or even scared of, then they are going to create a robust, adaptive, open organizational setting that is very responsive to its environment. In my state you mentioned above, I pointed out that by mimicking those who are disrupting the industry – let’s stick with the example of Netflix – “traditional” entertainment content producers can actually stay competitive. Faced with high quality content competition from Netflix, HBO upped their content game as did other channels.
Ana says there is a difference between disruptive thinking in business and individual disruptive thinking. If an individual who is an innovative problem solver isn’t in the organization or system that is supporting them, they won’t be able to achieve much. Similarly, disruptive business thinking requires an organization built for disruption.
The Importance Of Collaborative Consumption
Ana has recently written about the importance of brands paying attention to collaborative consumption. As she explains, collaborative consumption is important because it combines economic value with social values. It creates business models based on sharing and collaboration, and it promotes redistribution of resources.
All these things make it very different from the current economic system based on individual ownership, restricted resources and competition.
Value Brokers In The Digital World
We asked Ana if agencies can become value brokers in the digital world, and this is what she told us:
Value broker is someone who comfortably resides in two (or more) worlds. Agencies as value brokers can reside in the world of traditional economy, organizations and industries and simultaneously in the world of startups, collaborative economy and innovative business models. True value resides in combining the two.
Ana also says agencies use strategies in a limited way. She says a strategy can become a lot more about value brokerage than it is today. She likes to see strategy being more about creating services and systems that improve consumers’ lives in some way, rather than about creating better marketing gimmicks.
The Key For Your Great Digital Strategy Is…
Talking to a digital expert, such as Ana Andjelic, we had to ask what would be the number one most important thing to consider when creating a digital strategy. She said it’s the human behaviour.
That’s the key starting point in any good strategy. Improve human behaviour, don’t interrupt it.
This Is What Best Campaigns Do
At Spring Studios, Ana says they work with a ton of great retail, luxury and beauty brands that have fantastic challenges. She also sounds very enthusiastic about whatever comes next, seeing it as something deemed to be fun and challenging!
When it comes to campaigns, Ana explains that the ones build upon already existing behaviours and/or value exchanges between consumers, or between consumers and a brand, are always the best ones.
Those campaigns make consumer behaviours more informed, efficient or entertaining. They also make brands more essential in consumers’ lives. Best campaigns create a marketplace for a coveted value exchange. They directly improve consumers’ lives, or they create a new value that didn’t exist before.
I [Love] Marketing
Ana migrated her blog I [love] marketing to a new web destination, where she aggregated everything that she is thinking about and doing these days, and where all her conference presentations, interviews, videos and publications are. You should check it out!
The thing that remained the same is that I still want to provoke people to think differently. I think that key for being creative is being open to new ideas and perspectives. I try to provide people with these new perspectives and ideas.
Passion Drives Success? Absolutely!
One of the most interesting things about beautiful and successful Ana Andjelic is her approach to passion, and the way she combines it in her professional life. She is another proof to you that passion drives success. If you want to breathe, live and enjoy the work you do, if you want to be successful and noticed, it’s highly necessary to run away from a routine and never be bored. As Ana puts it:
I like to think of myself as a doer and a thinker. I just do what I am interested in and passionate about. When I get bored, I move on.