Creative agencies have been under siege for a long time. The business has changed completely within relatively short time and the balance of power between disciplines within agencies has shifted tremendously. Agencies must have changed a lot by now, but they need to change a lot more in order to meet the demands Future CMO will require from them. I would consider that challenge a great inspiration though, it can be an amazing adventure. Let’s look at where agencies stand now:
1. Creative agencies key asset is.. well creativity. People trained to open up their minds, simplify and recognize what is the thing that makes people (customers) move. The challenge is that advertising agencies have limited their use of creativity in communication and doesn’t have a credibility or position to use that creativity for more general business development, which would be very natural. In the very heart of creativity is customer insight. Using that insight to new purposes is much easier to do than teach non-creative people to become creative
2. Data is now available and media agencies have a long history of analysing it. In the current environment and the direction we are heading, corporate own channels, CRM and business data allready meet media data at media agencies. This will become standard practice over the next couple of years if it hasn’t been done yet. Media agencies are trained to measure and predict impact of different actions. Their role will be also to analyse different options in product portfolio scenarios and pricing, distribution etc. CRM and marketing automatatization will be a natural next step after people have already become professionals in making real time bidding online marketing, direct marketing, direct response advertising and managing revenue/cost ratios and communication portfolios
In my opinion the creative communication ecosystem will have to grow-up and take responsibility more than they have used to. Once agencies really take responsibility they can earn their way to the business development and real corporate management. As Future CMO has already cracked the door open, the CMO’s ecosystem must prepare to take the heat and meet the demands that should be seen as the new brave world with tremendous opportunities.
IBM CEO study was crystallized as three major change drivers by Mr. Samuel Palmisano, CEO and Chairman of IBM
Well, let’s consider creative agencies and the CEO challenges. The complexity of the world is clearly a challenge when you look at it top-down. If you look at the company from customer’s point of view, that complexity becomes much easier to handle. Creative agencies should really be capable of both reducing the complexity to the minimum AND help coping with it. Media agencies with their capability to analyze markets and customer behaviour should certainly become very handy. The third challenge, creativity, is the bread and butter for creative agencies. So, why wouldn’t agencies start meeting these challenges.
Actually, the new breed of agencies have started doing exactly that. They are just called Service design agencies and their methodology is based on Design Thinking. The basic value proposition is to offer companies a) very clear customer insight b) services that meet the customers’ needs in new ways driving growth and profitability. They are actually changing marketing in to service. Pushy communications no longer work, making communications that inspire, entertain and serve customers are relevant and interesting.. and they sell better.
Dear former colleague, Adman and thinker who has inspired me more than any other person in the world, Rory Sutherland, has made a case of meeting the challenges with one single concept: Behavioral Economics. His case below is a great eye opener for any Ad exec or CMO. There is a great future for creative and media agencies if they just embrace the opportunities, take responsibility and are prepared to unleash their capacity to more meaningful purpose:
“IPA President Rory Sutherland explains why he is championing behavioural economics We need to broaden the definition of what we do to reflect the new reality of the market place because if we don’t create a new model based on human understanding, then we are in danger of using 1950s packaged goods persuasive techniques to solve todays communications problems! With behavioural economics we can align ourselves to a recognizable science and not be held hostage to the media budget. It gives us a framework that will refresh our thinking and our talent pool and with it we can use ideas to turn human understanding into business and social advantage.”