Do We Still Need Advertising Industry Agencies?
In a stalled economy marked by decreased sales, reduced work forces and slashed media budgets, companies may think that marketing leaders no longer need their advertising agency partners by their side. At least not like they used to.
Under pressure to conserve cash, brands may think that their external marketing, advertising and public relations suppliers are expendable. They may wonder if ad agencies are relevant to the future of digital marketing.
“After all, aren’t agencies only needed when we are spending vs cutting our media budgets?
“Only company insiders can help us pivot as fast as we need to …
“I like them but I feel like I can’t afford my agency right now…
I own a 1959 FORD Skyliner Hardtop convertible. It is a legacy gift from my father. With its jet black exterior and original red and white leather interior, it’s a beauty of a car, but a temperamental one. The FORD Motor Co. manufactured “Retractables” in the late 1950’s. The hardtop roof unscrews itself and lifts mechanically, then retracts above your head and drops into the open trunk, all at the literal push of a button from the driver’s seat.
One recent and very hot day, the car failed to start. I made a bunch of assumptions, most of which were wrong. I found myself staring at the little red needle on the fuel gauge; it just wiggled around. The other gauges also seemed stuck in time and offer little insight into the problem. I eventually discover that I needed to recharge the battery. I say a thank you Dad prayer that new jumper cables were close at hand. I’m soon on my way.
Our marketing/media companies and advertising agencies are a lot like those jumper cables, essential for times when we are not moving forward; still numbering in the hundreds of thousands, all types of advertising industry agencies contribute to about 3% of the US economy, pre-COVID, according to the most recent US Labor stats the industry uses.
Agencies create value for their clients. Today they bring digital marketing skill sets to help clients accelerate change; they provide external perspective and cultural sensibilities. Staffed with people with strategic skillsets, creative brains and tech tools, they jump start innovative solutions to the problems that simply did not exit earlier this year. Agencies can help advertisers integrate brand messaging as they execute from the digital media toolbox, often better and faster than clients can master themselves.
Companies driving into headwinds will need to think more freely and creatively to recover brand economic value and lock in customer loyalty in the next 18 months.
Service-oriented companies will need innovative growth strategies based on real time customer needs, now altered by COVID concerns. Most companies will also need sharp critical thinking skills to overcome extraordinary operational and distribution challenges. All brands will need to produce more empathetic, highly personalized communication targeted to each customer.
Rear View Mirror
No longer are traditional product development processes or internal tech functions the exclusive source of brand innovation. No longer is “testing to perfecting” fast enough. Even formal research study seems like a luxury. Like successful start-ups and tech companies, mature advertisers will soon shift to a digital mindset that embraces iterative learning. They must lean into the very latest insight from consumer data to determine more creative solutions, the driver for innovation and growth.
More agile brand innovation will also require different kinds of leaders, leading different, integrated work teams populated with more diverse partners. The diversity of these teams will improve the co-creation process. This eco-system of talent will move faster to reveal opportunities and engineer the solutions that achieve meaningful results. Advertising agencies are best equipped to provide the litmus test for brand actions so they will work across all audiences.
Watch for Roadblocks
The pain points that limit brands’ ability for marketing-driven innovation are well known and documented. Deloitte succinctly categorizes these challenges into four types:
For a Smoother Ride
The right cultural conditions to support a company’s innovation goals can be a critical antidote for stalled efforts.
“Co-creation involves a shift in thinking from the organization as the sole driver of innovation to collaboration with a network of partners within and outside the industry,” according the Deloitte analysis.
The success of this proposition presumes a company has the access and right mix of talent and industry suppliers, in particular those firms that culturally align and understand a company’s core values. Strong cultural fit between companies and agency suppliers will provide a little grease to the bureaucratic process, reducing friction and speeding up decision-making.
Leaders can influence culture but success requires a change management mindset. One that will recognize and respect the cultural norms of other humans invited to the table, especially in the different ways they ideate, process information and ultimately endorse team decisions. Those team leaders that model ways for teams to be open, vet ideas and address roadblocks, and while working remotely, will inspire people to stay fully engaged.
Why Ad Agencies?
The value proposition of the advertising industry in the eco-system remains as strong as ever, and certainly not expendable in tough times.
Agency partners can be recruited or re-engaged with the missive to co-create the innovative programs and strategies brands need for economic recovery. They can efficiently produce the just-right content and relevant communication to keep anxious customers feeling good about the brands and services they do choose.
In particular, in-demand digital skills sets that agencies offer can help brands bridge between their physical space and digital space as consumer purchasing behavior is also forced to evolve.
Advertising industry agencies, media companies and digital tech firms can jump start brand innovation and enable change. Now more than ever, they give us:
- Broader, culturally current external perspective
- Fresh-cut (and bold if you want) ideas for brand reset
- Speed and agility to help a client move and then improve
- Go-to digital marketing capability and mix
- Heart-felt dedication to a worthy client cause
Advertising industry agencies and marketing technology suppliers are a company’s jumper cables, indispensable to brands when you need to move forward. Smart drivers use them in times of trouble.
For 30+ years ROJEK Consulting has advised its clients on the search and section of advertising, media and digital tech suppliers. As early innovators in the marketing and advertising industry, ROJEK uses its process with measurable data and results to define the just-right partnerships for its clients, ones that are engineered to create value, now and over time.
We move past capability and cost to find the agency partners for our clients based on the only thing that makes a difference, cultural fit between talent and teams. Good things tend to happen.
Feeling anxious? We move quickly and confidentially knowing who to hire for the outcome a client needs.
Visit www.rojekconsulting.com to learn more.
By the way, our Founder and CEO Lorraine is still learning how to drive her new old Ford Retractable.
“Who knew that side mirrors and seat belts were not standard issue in 1959?!”
She had also learned not go anywhere without her jumper cables.