New Rules For Agency Success

by Robert Sanders

Feeling a bit overwhelmed?

You should be. We’ve all been reading about, talking about, listening, to all the great challenges the marketing industry faces. The new marketing landscape, the evolving relationship between clients and marketing, the so called doom and gloom and end of advertising as we know it. To paraphrase the ex-49ers Head Coach Harbaugh it’s all just “gobble, gobble, gobble, turkey, funk-jive turkey gobblers.” That’s what many agencies are doing, just talking.

There is another option.

Punch harder, Persistance always pays off. Fight back! Find a better way!

We could look at all the sweeping changes in another light and get excited by the opportunities for new growth. Any changing environment can sustain new forms of life, if you are willing to be the leader. The old rules that allowed marketing firms to survive are fading away. Early adopters will have an opportunity to create the new rules. Any agency that refuses to change will soon be left behind.

Tactics To Agencies Build The Future:

  1. Focus on leadership. People follow leaders. And leaders create the future by having a clear vision. In today’s evolving market the future belongs to those who focus more on building assets, not profits. There is no secret formulaic, there is no magic key. Only lots and lots of inspiration and perspiration.
  2. Have a real growth plan. Ramp up new business fast. In the old days marketing firms could sit back and survive on referrals, random RFPs, and the odd pitch. Today agencies have to accelerate everything, including new business.
  3. Focus on operations. Reduce costs, improve efficiency, and celebrate strategic and creative thinking. Building the future requires the agencies to become much more responsive, giving clients what they need faster. Work hard to achieve the right mix of personnel, talent, and skills.
  4. Embrace technology. Building the future is all about trying new things, and failing more often than not. You still need to control the cost of your technology investment, work hard to measure, monitor, and enhance your investment. Create a mindset of the agile agency.
  5. Understand change management. Expecting change to just happen on its own dooms your agency to living in the past. Implementing change helps recognize the benefits of leading the charge. The problem is everyone agrees that everyone else needs to change. Any change creates fear, uncertainty and exaggerates insecurities. The solution is better understanding of how change can be properly orchestrated.
  6. Reclaim innovation. Marketing firms used to be the business innovation leaders, creating new products and services, new brands, new technology, and new ways to conduct research. Not anymore. They’ve lost the innovation edge and are now just viewed as tactical marketing providers. Start a new program to help lead clients in understanding how to transform their business.
  7. Train your staff. A training program is the one thing every agency states they need, yet always fail to deliver. Invest now in training. Change management, leadership, technology, and new business are all skills that can be learned, enhanced, and transferred. Reward collaboration and cross training. Build the skills you need to succeed in the future.

Are you ready to lead?

If so, don’t allow complacency to creep into your process. Work hard and find some quick wins to celebrate. One quick warning, never forget to anchor any change in your culture – else all your old habits will only return. Good luck!


Photo by Maximilian Imran Faleel and used under creative commons.