We have big plans for the new year at Haberman.
Changing how work is done is at the root of client briefs these days. Big brands want to act more nimbly like smaller brands, and smaller brands want the best-practice pattern and resource heft of the big brands. Haberman uniquely lives in both worlds, which makes it fun to toggle back and forth. In 2024, we’re continuing to accelerate and deepen our services to help clients figure out how to work better and make bigger marketing-driven impacts, sooner. Right now, we’re succeeding by shrinking the size of teams, making audience feedback the essence of their daily work, and changing the whole operating model around the team. We’re focusing on putting audiences right in the center of all the action, rather than off to the side in powerpoint slides, which increases the odds of success more than any single channel, capability or tool. It’s hard work that requires a whole new level of collaboration and trust in each team. And that’s what I’m most excited about: building more small teams who change how we work, how clients work, and how we work together.
One of the blessings (and curses) of being a part of an agency born with an entrepreneurial spirit is having the relentless tendency to always be looking ahead. Forget about reflection, or being present for that matter, let’s get to what’s next, people!! But as the wise and prolific founder of Traditional Medicinals, Drake Saddler, once told our team here at Haberman, it’s essential to reflect on the positive downstream impact our mission-based marketing agency has made over the past almost three decades and leverage what we’ve learned from those experiences. So, instead of continuously only asking “What’s next?,” we need to ask “What happened?” more often. And, “Did it work? Why? What did we learn?,” all leading to “How can we do it better next time?” Another universal truth we are all faced with in marketing is the ever increasing necessity for speed. Getting to the bottom of what is and isn’t working for our clients more quickly is essential. As I look ahead to 2024, I’m enthusiastic to not just reflect more, but get faster at reflection, and dial in our ability as an agency to process learnings and inputs more quickly. We may need to first go slow to eventually go faster, but there’s no doubt, the more deliberate, focused and speedy our reflection cycles become, the more social and business impact we will deliver for our clients.
As Modern Storytellers, we’ve always believed in the power of story to connect us as humans, heal our hearts and move us into action to make the world a better place. In early 2024, Haberman’s DEI team, AdVocation and local award-winning filmmaker Louise Woehrle are bringing her latest film, A Binding Truth, to the Twin Cities advertising and marketing community. This documentary, which recently received the “Audience Award for Best Documentary” at the Twin Cities Film Fest, is about two men who share the same last name—one black, one white—both from Charlotte, North Carolina, who discover a missing piece of themselves in each other. A story rooted in the South is also America’s story:one of slavery’s legacy, the present-day racial divide, and the hope that by learning from each other, we can heal deep wounds that many of us have never faced. I’m looking forward to sharing this story, and others, as we continue to inspire important conversations within the agency, our clients and the advertising community.
In 2024, I’m excited about helping my clients think through how they can be more entrepreneurial in the way they operate their businesses and marketing programs. Many business leaders have expressed frustration about advertising and marketing agency professionals having no real life experience running or operating a business. They say that hurts marketers when it comes to understanding the dynamic forces at play within a company and business category. These blind spots can contribute to agencies rushing to myopic and overvalued recommendations of how marketing can be a fix all for a business, rather than developing a strategy after understanding and aligning with the kaleidoscope of forces at play within a company’s whole system, in order to multiply odds for success. I’m looking forward to applying my learnings as a CEO of an organic CPG food company with clients so that they don’t waste money, but think through how to test, learn, adapt and grow within an aligned system of entrepreneurial accountability that supports smart growth and generates value.
2024 is going to be a wild ride. From macro issues like another contentious presidential election cycle and the continued rapid acceleration of AI to more marketing-specific topics like shifting digital habits and expectations to move faster and stretch dollars further, change is constant. With everything on the horizon, Haberman’s commitment to curiosity, adaptability and kindness resonate with me more than ever. And that commitment goes beyond staying on top of trends and new tools. It’s practicing active listening and asking lots of questions. It’s a desire to focus and have discipline when it comes to learning from results, digging deeper and always focusing on the “So what?” and “What’s next?” when looking backwards. It’s then marrying those marketing learnings with the broader business performance. And, most importantly, it’s leading with positive intentions, empathy and trust to foster relationships built on kindness and respect. This next year, I’m most excited to listen deeply, learn and model the kindness I’d like to see in the world.