The future of agencies

  1. What do you do, when what you’ve always done doesn’t bring what it used to?
  2. What do you do when the work you used to do, simply isn’t good enough anymore, and is done by less skilled people, or even computers?
  3. What do you do when new techniques come up and disappear even quicker. Or come up and becomes the new standard, making all the old techniques fade away.

New times require new ways of generating cash flow.

At first, change can seem to inflict challenges, but it can also make running a business a lot fairer to all stakeholders, more transparent, like water.

Looking at advertising agencies we see that old agency behemoths have crumbled. The times of Mad Men are behind us, the old 80’s agencies are replaced by smaller, project driven companies.

Nowadays, successful agencies appear to be structured like loose sand with a small core team and loads of freelancers and specialists, but mind you: agencies offer cohesion when it’s needed. Agencies simply are more fluent, more dynamic, shaping to the needs of the challenge.

New ways of generating cash flow

More and more, agencies are driven by ambition to actually help their clients to progress, working as network. Socially, together, efficiently based on what is needed to get the job done.

And with another way of generating cash flow. Sending invoices for every minute of work done is replaced by cash flow from e.g.

  • performance
  • measurable results
  • investing along in a concept
  • creating a model with recurring income.

In the (near) future, advertising and marketing will be driven strongly by IT. This offers advantages, like measurability, focus on results and return on investment.

The question is; what does this do with creativity?

The impact of IT on out-of-the-box thinking

Is IT a facilitator or does it erect walls, a container to hold the creativity. What does this do with out-of-the-box creativity?

Processes get standardized, automated. Creating a business card, adding content to a recruitment advertisement and other traditional agency jobs are being done by software nowadays. And if an agency still gets this job, it’s margins definitely are under pressure.

In fact, all media consumption becomes more fluid. New features of the internet, using tablets, private and business life are interwoven. Twitter, facebook, google plus, linkedin, instagram, foursquare, pinterest become major parts of our lives.

Changing times demand a new way of getting the job done. Flexibility, the ability to adapt, become even more essential factors.

Do these developments mean the end of agencies? In a way, yes, they do. And at the same time these developments offer big opportunities.

Technique, automation and focus on results are enablers to make an agency progress, keeping it successful.

Adaption to change could compare the situation of agencies to riding a bicycle.

When you ride a bike, the landscape is not always flat and windless. Sometimes you might have tailwind, but then the wind can change, and comes from the side, or even (as in The Netherlands mostly seems to be the case) you have headwind. Not only wind, but also the surroundings define the energy consumption, e.g. going uphill can be a real energy drainer.

Riding the bike you focus on pedaling, you don’t have eye for the world around you and you’re limited in the distance you can go.

One day, someone introduces an electrical bike, creating new possibilities. With less effort it’s rider is able to go beyond the limits he used to have, enabling him to explore new areas. He sees new things and absorbes them.

And who are you?

Are you the bike rider, working hard, sweat beads on the forehead, hair glued to the skull, overtaken by more relaxed others, who seem to get up that big hill with a lot less effort? Or are you able to ride the winds of change?

About the author

Over the past few years Walter van der Scheer has been evangelizing marketing automation to advertising agencies, e-commerce companies and co-workers alike and has been building a team of determined sales professionals. He has made progress, but the road ahead is still very long. Walter shares his personal experiences and challenges along the road of changing the way that marketing is done, while trying to stick to the strategically chosen path. +

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