Small Agency Manifesto

Take a Hint from "Punk": The Marketing Revolution is Nigh

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One of my first posts to this blog recounted the days of my misspent youth as a punk rocker growing up in Indiana. I described the poster of Johnny Rotten, lead singer of the Sex Pistols, torn from the pages of Teen Bop magazine and proudly displayed on my bedroom wall. For years Johnny's wicked sneer stared back at me above the words "Are We Having Fun Yet?" in big white type. Thanks to the internet, I've rekindled this teen angst memory on my office desktop, so from time to time Johnny can remind me just how fun this business can be.

Noelle Weaver Noelle Weaver
Given these punk roots, you can imagine my delight when several months ago a friend introduced me to Richard Laermer and shared word of his forthcoming marketing manifesto, "Punk Marketing: Get Off Your Ass and Join the Revolution," co-authored with Mark Simmons. I was intrigued: a modern marketing revolution? An anti-establishment approach to our industry? Turning all the rules upside down?

For a small town girl who once sported a mohawk, this was music to my ears.

The book tackles a familiar industry theme: the rise of shifting power from corporation to consumer. But while one might argue that many of the ideas discussed are nothing new, the in-your-face attitude and bravado is shocking. We as small agencies, the text explains, have the opportunity to harness the industry's uprising and find ways to jar "The Man" out of His sleepy thinking. The inroads our small shops make can steal share from the big boys.

Every good revolution requires a manifesto. (How many times have we written one for our clients?) In the first chapter of "Punk," the reader is presented with 14 articles – guidelines, if you will -- to help "change the thinking from a set of outdated ideas to another, more relevant set." Such gems include:

Avoid Risk and Die -- In times of change the greatest risk is to take none at all.

Don't Be Seduced By Technology -- The media is not the message anymore. The message is the message is the message.

Know Who You Are -- If you don't understand what it is that you are good at, you might be tempted to try and be something you are not.

Don't Let Others Set Your Standards -- Sorry to tell you this but good no longer means anything, while mediocre does more harm than doing nothing.

In the spirit of consumer-generated content, the authors invite you to devise a 15th Article online.

After finishing the book I couldn't help but revisit that Johnny Rotten poster on my bedroom wall. I wrote Richard with the following 15th Article: Always remember to have fun. Do not fear change. Embrace it.

Many of you, through your comments, have shared your own wisdoms and mini-manifestos for this new marketing age. I invite you to submit your own 15th Articles. Perhaps as a collective, we can create our own Small Agency Manifesto.

Click here to read Ad Age's review of "Punk Marketing: Get Off Your Ass and Join the Revolution."
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