Dug this out and dusted it off recently - Its a piece I wrote in January 08 about the new kind of marketing communications agency and at the time I must have been feeling pretty optimistic about the future. Having said this a few things I have seen recently make me think it could be starting to look more realistic. I'll have to think about what to wish for in 2009!
THE AGENCY OF THE FUTURE…The agency of the future should be geared up to deliver to the following…
-The future of client needs within the advertising and communications business
-Guidance in the future economy and the disruptive effect this will have on the way that client businesses make money
-The sustainable future of the planet
It will be set up as a sustainable carbon neutral enterprise which is indicative of a broader set of values based on the personal values of the people who work there. A sustainability ethos will breed a whole host of general benefits to the company such as a sense of personal engagement of staff, a sense of community, the positive client experience that this personal feel will achieve, a way to attract talent in the future, as well as first mover advantage in the battle to attract the clients of the future.
It has two core services which are ‘double sided’ (which makes 4 in total.)
1a – Solutions planning
1b – Sustainable solutions planning
2a – Experimental new business models
2b – Sustainable experimental new business models
What is Solutions Planning? Why are their two sides?
The current marketing services model is not equipped to deal with the inevitable influx of new business opportunities that will emerge in the next 5+ years. The core output of most agencies is message based communication which is increasingly coming under threat.
Current agency models are under threat because…
- advertising is becoming less effective
- Media is owned by consumers and therefore so is brand creation
- There are many more types of non advertising brand opportunities available
- There is a need for marketing output to have benefits in their own right in order for consumers to choose to use them – the rest ends up as expensive wallpaper.
As this happens brands will need a whole host of new techniques that are not served by most existing agencies. These techniques will be the core offering of the new kind of agency. They will need to be more real, more human and more purposeful and will include…
-Brand innovation over advertising innovation
-Non-advertising end to end service solutions
-Collaborative and community based initiatives
-Brand networking (connecting companies with consumers, other brands, specialists, and partners versus creating an image that sits between these potential connections)
At the same time it is predicted that sustainability will be bigger than the internet in its impact on business. Message based communication is even more ill-equipped to solve the problems created by the need for sustainable marketing ideas and initiativesCurrent agency models are not equipped to deal with sustainability because…
- Messages can not have a green outcome… actions speak louder than words in this area!
- Sustainability can not be based on brand image
- It has to be driven by people and communities not brands and advertising
When you look at all of these more human and personal approaches that are needed for sustainable marketing you actually find that they are exactly the same things that any marketing company should be embracing in the future regardless of green issues. In other words the expertise and understanding that is needed for sustainable marketing solutions is also the same as those that will be needed for all future brand solutions.
In the near future the two service options will be available to clients but beyond this it is expected that these will merge until ultimately all clients will only need sustainable solutions for their businesses.
What are experimental new business models? Why are their two sides?
The above describes the transition beyond the conventional advertising model and also into sustainable marketing that the new company will specialise in. However this is only one part of the offering of the new kind of agency.
Increasingly the role of the client marketing department will blur with the rest of the company in its remit. Instead of looking for communications opportunities it will increasingly be needed to look for business opportunities.
This is generally true because
- advertising is becoming less effective as a driver of business growth
- the new digitally driven world means a continual state of revolution
- greater collaboration between consumers and the business itself (not just the brand) will be needed
- With lower barriers to entry an experimental model is necessary which means trying things out in the real world.
Instead of an advertising agency businesses will need innovation agencies who can seek out, consult on, and introduce new business opportunities on a rolling basis. The exact services would need further development but they would include;
-Seeking/designing killer applications that could change the business model
-Arranging brand and business partnerships in order to open up new markets
-Monetised communications solutions
-Idea generation and internal facilitation in order to devise new business models
- Trial and testing for new business ideas
Having said this the real disruption (and opportunity) that will face business and challenge the existing practices will be the prevention of climate change. Consumer pressure, government mandates, and market forces will mean that rapid and radical change will be necessarily.
- Companies will have to be nimble due to radical and quick changes
- Industrial production and consumption will become less viable forcing companies to shift towards more of a service model
- Most existing business models are inherently non-sustainable and so will not be able to compete with new sustainable models. Every company will need to be looking for these and fast!
In the near future the need to be creative with the business and how it is profitable and not just in the communications will be important for companies. However beyond this it is expected that every company will specifically need a spirit of constant innovation toward replacing inefficient or wasteful practices and ways of making money, with more sustainable and therefore profitable options. The agency of the future should be a partner in achieving this.