There’s a new, smarter way to run an agency these days.

many questions

The future of ad agencies is uncertain.

Once, advertising agencies had it all. Agencies were the envy of the business world, until others started preying on them. The first nibble was expensive – agencies lost control of promotion work, distribution allowances, slotting payments, and other basic sales promotion funds. The swing to these new marketing programs caused a dramatic shift in client spending.

Next, the growth of direct response and database marketing started so slowly, few agencies noticed. Today it’s a giant business with many specialized players and few traditional agencies involved.

Agencies laughed at the idea of firms specializing in buying media. The services were considered a passing fad. Now, separate media buying organizations control the market. And agencies fight over the leftover media planning crumbs.

With the proliferation of personal computers and devices, clients started hiring design specialists to do much of the work agencies once did. Agencies watched this happen and thought it would never work. Now many clients use their agencies as little as possible. Clients also started using more and more freelancers. What was once a minor nuisance continues to expand.

The growth of digital is now transforming the very idea of marketing and undermining the entire advertising industry. Most traditional agencies have remained small players in this booming business.

Agencies have lost intellectual altitude in the minds of most clients. For most clients, consultants and strategists have replaced agencies in the boardrooms. Agencies are delegated to the conference room to work on tactical solutions. Many firms now find themselves in the position of communication vendor, measured on price and delivery time. The market perception is that agencies, with their focus on tactics, have little place in the client boardroom. On those rare occasions when a company CEO meets with the agency, the ad manager is there because agencies work with ad managers. The consultants work with CEOs.

Agencies today, find themselves in a much shrunken shape just as the total investment in marketing is at an all time high. The agency world has been described as a cruise ship to hell: a cruise ship with lots of partying going on, slowly cruising toward a setting sun. On this cruise ship to hell, music and bright party lights are on, people are at the rail, and lots of fun and noise are flowing up. Life on the agency boat is fun and exciting, but what’s the destination? Where is the industry heading?

Will agencies change? Can agencies change?

Focus on Agency Leadership

Understand the new landscape that agencies face, with the high ground occupied by consultants and the low ground covered by design firms and freelancers who are thrilled to compete against agencies on the basis of price. See why agencies are getting “middled,” and why clients don’t care. It’s all explained in this powerful talk called “The Marketing Chessboard.” In one sweep, it shows where agencies are now and the direction in which they’re heading. Five growth strategies are outlined where the agency of the future can be successful. Consider this a call to change and a warning not to stand still.

Focus on Agency Positioning

The secrets of doing branding for clients are well known by most agencies, yet few agencies take the time to position themselves properly. This is confusing to prospects and clients. If you aren’t sure what the future is, and where your agency fits moving forward, you will be left behind. This powerful session will show how a strong agency branding program can help transform your agency. All the elements are here, including branding the agency, positioning, theme, and why a strong internal branding program pays big dividends.

Focus on Structure

Agencies need to increase their productivity and profit margins, as clients cut budgets, restructure compensation or do both. As a senior agency executive, you wrestle with the task of evaluating and perhaps changing your agency structure. Looming overhead is the warning that if you don’t address change, you will lose ground. The High Performing Agency Model (HiPAM) is a look into the future at where the agency business is going and how we all can get there. If there is a promised land in the future for agencies, this session will point it out for you. You may be able to survive without HiPAM, but in order to prosper, you need evaluate radical changes in how you operate.

Focus on Account Management

The Achilles’ heel of most agencies is the account management staff. Most often under-trained, over-committed, and not managed, account management teams at many agencies careen from one near disaster to another with little regard for what clients really want. Too stressed to listen, too rushed to think, and too pricey to just manage workflow, account management is a lurking problem that won’t go away. In this session, see why serious change in how account management works at your firm might be needed now if you want to reach the future.

Focus on Change Management

The truth is many agency leaders conceptually understand the challenge of creating the agency of the future. Many even have ideas on what they need to be successful. The real issue they’re facing is how do they tear down the old agency and build something new without going out of business? In this closing session, learn how to transform your agency without losing key staff, clients and leaders. And without losing your mind. Learn how over 50 agencies were able to transform their operations and build the agency of the future.

Agencies have been out positioned by the changing world.

agency of the futureAgencies are forced to deal with lower level functionaries on the client side in conference rooms, while major decisions are made at the CEO level in the boardroom. We can show you how to turn the tables before it’s too late.

We recently presented the above in a very full one-day session to a group of agency leaders in Chicago. The feedback was amazing. Many reported they returned to their firms with a whole new way of looking at our industry and ideas on how best to prepare for the future. Give us a call if you would like to have us present this amazing new way of thinking to your agency or group!


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