In order to succeed today, advertising, public relations and digital agencies need to be core and connected.
I live in Orange County, the heart of the action sports industry. If you are part of that industry you must be core. My buddy Vipe Desai, who is certainly core, says you need to be involved for the right reasons, and have a history of activity. You aren’t core just because you have a t-shirt with a logo on it. You need to be part of the lifestyle and participate for the right reasons which aren’t based on money first. Otherwise you are just a poser; basically you have to live the talk. I think that the same principles apply to agencies these days.
So, here is my take on how to be a core and connected agency.
You need to build your agency around a core team.
In today’s project based world that might mean not having an art department but, instead, having a Director of Social Media. A Chief Analytics Officer is very important as well. However, that doesn’t mean your entire core team are employees. Your core team must be client facing, new business facing and social media facing. If you did a Google search on your core team they must own all the postings on the first page.
Secondly, develop a credible core competency.
This is not the flavor of the day, but an expertise that your core team has had a long history of. Experience, involvement and a great passion for an agency is needed. This could be a target group capability such as Millennials or category experience. Many agencies say, sorry we deliver ROI, or we provide integrated marketing services, or we will work hard for you.” This has been said about as many times as there were tweets today.
Many agencies are far from core. They claim to be great brand builders yet their own brand lags. These agencies challenge their clients to try new marketing initiatives but, they rarely challenge themselves.
One needs to partake in the core activities and practices of the agency. For example, in the action sports industry, skating, snowboarding or surfing is core practicing.
To me, that means, walking the talk. Your actions are testimony to your expertise. You need to be engaged in the conversations and activities in your core area of expertise. You can’t be a social media proponent if you don’t participate. Your agency’s participation must include all members of your core team and not just the employee with two years of agency experience managing your social media platforms, when they aren’t answering the phones!
You need to spread your thought leadership through blogging, speaking at conferences and events, and spreading your thought leadership through all social media channels.
You need to be extremely well connected and networked.
You need to be connected to a wide variety of people and prospects. You must rock on Linkedin and become deeply involved with other social media platforms. More importantly you need to network constantly because face time and not Facebook leads to relationships. Your network needs to be broad and diverse with a wide range of solutions and resources in every marketing space. These people will help you stay on the cutting edge of technology and change. You must provide clients with the best solution even when it may be something you don’t do or won’t get that part of their budget. Promoting solutions just aligned to what you do is quite frankly old and self serving.
Enjoy the journey.
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