How Agencies Can Lead Again.


Once upon a time advertising agencies ruled. Clients didn’t quite understand them but knew they needed them. Being with agencies was fun and amazing and insightful. It was the best part of a client’s day.  Agencies were different from clients.  Agencies were in charge.  It was a special and magic place.  Nobody on the client side could create the magic and elixir that agencies had.

Agencies did all the things that clients couldn’t do.

Then computers came and the agency magic was eroded.   It really wasn’t that long ago.

Clients learned to do some of the simple things that agencies could do but for far less money.  Marketers could increase their internal value by saying I have found a way to cut our costs. We are bringing some things in-house.  The most cost conscious ones did it first.  But they were probably the worst clients for an agency to have.

The one thing that clients couldn’t do was to create ideas. First clients paid for them and soon they found that some agencies gave their ideas away free. Some Agencies unfortunately reacted to the loss in revenue and clients by making their most valuable attribute a loss leader. They reduced their craft to a free commodity. Shameful and sad.  They chased the money and not their vision and beliefs.

That was the past. Here is my take on the future.

I believe that today agencies can lead again. Honest.  Some already are there.

The key today for the agencies on Main street and is not a CMO but an Agency Technologist.

Everyone is overwhelmed by technology.  We can’t keep up with it and neither can clients in today’s world. Alvin Toffler predicted that we will get to a point where we have information overload and he did that 40 years ago.

Understanding technology is today’s agency magic elixir that clients can’t match and where agencies can recapture their leadership.

Agencies will always be valued on creativity and innovation but that delivery needs to be changed to a navigator of the world of technology that has been reinvented before I wrote this sentence.

Clients can’t keep up with the pace of change. Clients will value that guidance and reassurance.

Finding Technologists can be a challenging recruiting task. They are difficult to find.  Just the same as when social media exploded and posers became trophy wives.

They aren’t people that do stuff.  They know how to align messaging to opportunity.  They see things that others don’t.

In the near future Technologist will have an important seat at the table.

They will be listened to and often decide the course.

What proportion of the budget will be directed to automated marketing, what proportion with intimate consumer dialogue in social media, what apps can help a business grow?  What tablets will be at point of purchase in retail locations to overcome the Best Buy decline.  What things I can’t see today but will need tomorrow before my competitors find them first.

Yes it is time for agencies to regain their lead.  You see innovation and being at the front end of the future has always been agencies best ways to lead.

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