Not too long ago there was a shift in power between retailers and marketers.

The shift was driven by the fact that retailers owned the space and they muscled it up.  Marketers had little say, and in the end what they were bringing to the table wasn’t so unique that a retailer couldn’t say to a marketer: “If you don’t give me what I want, I can just as easily get most if not all of what I want from someone else”.

A shift of Walmart proportions is happening today in the agency-client world.   What was once a near impossibility for marketers now has become much more accessible.

No longer do they need to rely on their agency to provide them with the necessary tools to gain intelligence into market forces nor do they need them to help build deep, meaningful relationships with customers.

And on the flip-side, no longer does every agency have the necessary tools to give marketers everything they need.

  • The web-centric world allows marketers to build their own channels of insight, access, and influence
  • Continuous production, packaging, delivery, and tracking of fresh relevant content requires new skills
  • Marketers strive to own the customer experience and can do so using customer data integration models

But there’s hope for smarter, more strategic agencies.  What marketers don’t have that agencies do have (and always will have) is deeper and broader perspective and the ability to be a strong strategic partner in helping marketers sift through data and insights to create a better world.  Tim Williams, from Ignition, called it an opportunity for agencies to be “Curators”.

So what does this mean for you?

It means that you need to walk into a relationship knowing where the real value lies with your agency partner.

And you need to walk into a relationship knowing in your heart, what you expect from your agency.  Have you clearly outlined those expectations?  Will you be a collaborative client or will you simply give the orders and expect the service?  Do you want a curator or are you looking for someone to lead the entire process for you.

Think long and hard about what you want from your agency.  The good ones are out there, it just takes a little more time and the right set of questions to find your sweet spot in terms of delivering what you need to move your business ahead.