Adapting MarketingThe marketing agency game is changing rapidly.

And everybody’s got an opinion.   Some good, some predictable, and some just operating on not so sound ground.

As an example, I recently saw a couple of reports – one in WSJ and one in Ad Age talking about how the Agency of Record model is dead.  Really?  Dead?

True marketers are picking apart their assignments and many (not every, but many) are looking only for best-in-class across different disciplines…but that doesn’t mean the AOR is dead…just means there are probably more of them.

What some marketers have already discovered and others will someday realize that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all gig – for everyone.

A one-size-fits-all agency can work well for some and be a complete disaster for others.  It’s all a function of how it’s managed by the marketer (or lead agency) and how well the agencies play together.

I’ve had plenty of marketers that have come to me having tried it…and now are ready to bring it all back together under one roof.

One thing that I can say for certain IS changing…or at the very least needs to change, is how marketing agencies approach client relationships – both in terms of how think and how they’re structured to do what they need to do for their clients.

In an article by Greg Satell, he calls out some of the more critical pieces to what will be the most successful agency in the coming decade:

From Messaging to Experiences

Content is fine, but experiences are what really matter.  An agency can talk about content until they’re blue in the face.  That in and of itself isn’t a differentiator and isn’t the one thing that matters.  Content, just like social media (as a media platform) and just like other parts of the marketers’ sphere, are important contributors to the overall experience for a consumer.  And it isn’t just 360° marketing that matters anymore.  It’s what those 360 things do for the consumer.

From Rationale Benefits to Passionate Economy

While establishing an emotional connection is good and right and just…selling on purely rationale benefits isn’t how agencies should think anymore.  Passion for a brand is how agencies should be thinking.  What is going to connect most and motivate deeply and turn your user into an engaged advocate for your brand.  We represent an agency that talks about thinking advocacy from the start of any engagement…challenging themselves to think about the tools they can arm their consumers with to become shepherds for the brand.  If your agency is still only talking in terms of benefits, you can bet that it won’t get your much notice.

From Strategic Planning to Adaptive Strategy

Always good to think ahead and plan for the future – and do it in a way that is logical, analytics-based.  Problem with only thinking in strategic planning terms is (as we said at the outset)…the world is moving quickly and agencies that don’t think about adaptive strategy will not adapt and will die.  It’s simply not enough to plan, watch, and adjust.  It’s now critical that agencies plan, adapt, react, adapt again, and react and adapt again…and again.  You want an agency that speaks in these terms and thinks about your business in this manner.  If you aren’t (or rather if they aren’t), they’re putting you at a competitive disadvantage that has to be overcome.

So take a hard look at your agency.  Are they adapting? Are they thinking about your brand advocates and how they live for the passion of your brand?  And are they thinking about and creating experiences they can create versus only thinking about the messages they’re using across all platforms.

Be the leader for your brand and demand the same of your agency.  Get them thinking in these terms if they have any shot of surviving – and you do too!