Somewhere between the doom merchants and the bliss mongers there’s rising buoyancy across a number of industries, writes Johanna McDowell, CEO of the Independent Agency Search & Selection Company (IAS) and SCOPEN partner. And with cautious optimism comes the unzipping of wallets...
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported recently that it expects the world economy to grow by 6% in 2021, up from its 5.5% forecast in January. For advanced economies, the IMF estimated growth of 5.1%, with the United States set to expand by 6.4%.
What is driving the most positive global outlook in a year is vaccine rollouts, financial support from many governments, and a light at the end of the restrictive lockdown tunnel.
SA firms creating strategies for any eventuality
While South African companies were hard hit and little fiscal assistance was available to most, the marketing and advertising industries fared far better than many, particularly in the digital arena. The IAS is already starteing to see movement among the more progressive firms to source the talent they know will best serve them in any eventuality – another lockdown, or borderless business and freedom to meet.
Marketers who had robust relationships with their various agencies will be looking to build on those relationships and further solidify their combined ability to serve brands. Agencies too are seeking best-fit solutions, either by creating an in-house digital division or including outsourced expert digital operations in their blueprint for strategy 2021 and beyond.
As noted by Emily Cashen in World Finance, while tentatively scoping out a post-pandemic future, “governments around the world will need to shift their thinking from ‘survival mode’ to focusing on future economic growth”. We believe companies must do the same, with a view to changing what didn’t work over the last 12 months and investing in what did.
Meeting the future by strategising now
Key among the latter has been digital infrastructure and ongoing training for staff, not only to meet today’s Covid-compliant requirements, but to be ready for whatever is asked from tomorrow’s.
Now that both marketers and agencies have showed their mettle in the digital sector, there are fewer barriers to entry for local firms to handle work from foreign clients. Upskilling talent on a regular basis or outsourcing specific jobs to trusted solo or smaller firms is vital to ensure your ability to work from anywhere, with anyone.
While not all economic upswings are equal, South Africa's output is expected to grow 3.3% in 2021 according to Deloitte. Even while comparatively low when viewed in the context of global growth, the feeling across our industries is one that sits in that cautiously hopeful place between the doom merchants and the bliss mongers. And after what 2020 brought us, this is not the worst place to be.