Is the future of advertising agencies really a long, bleak, lonely journey into nothingness?

the future of advertising

Is the future of advertising agencies really this bad?

A place where high-speed idea factories have replaced agencies in the tactical area. Where the client “c-suite” gets all strategic communication help from so-called expert consultants. Where most of the remaining traditional agencies have drifted into a gray area of “communication vendors” with other project shops and marketing services companies. A new breed of younger, more tech savvy Marketing Managers avoid working with agencies in a traditional sense except as a last resort.

The marketing industry (ad agencies, design firms, et al) are facing a series of challenges that have never been seen before in history. How you handle and overcome these challenges will define the type of marketing firm you are and define your success over the next few years.

Challenge: Clients Believe Marketing is Tactical

This shift has big impact on the way you should think about your business. Clients are thinking about marketing differently. To them it’s tactical. And tactical is measured on achieving results, fast delivery and staying on budget. So anything that keeps you from delivering on their tactical-oriented measurements needs to go. Some examples that might be hindering your firm include: inefficient operating structure, department thinking and department silos, slow response and low productivity. All of these need to go.

Challenge: Consulting is Bigger than Marketing Communications

Hard to believe but it may be time for your firm to move into a larger and faster growing market area. And that’s consulting. You do this by launching a flanker brand aimed at CEOs, offering a variety of services, including serious branding. Serious branding is usually more than communication branding that agencies do just done to win an account but serious branding can be highly profitable work for marketing communication firms that know how.

Challenge: Below the Line is Bigger than Above the Line

Advertisers now spend an estimated 56% of their budgets on below the line activities. The major holding companies understand this and have rushed to stock up on firms that deliver below the line services. And Wall Street rewards those holding companies that have a majority of their income from below the line companies because the Street knows that’s where the fastest growth will be for a long time. Are you prepared for this new way of working?

What Does This Mean?

At Sanders Consulting Group we see our role as trusted advisers, helping you to chart a new path for your firm that leads to success and perhaps moving to the next level. Often we help by showing how to run ahead of the changes that are sweeping the marketing communications industry. Our starting point is simple: we believe that you can adjust to these new industry realities and survive. But if you embrace them, you can soar. Our work in this area, what we simply call “ strategic direction,” is perhaps the most valuable service we provide.


“We help marketing communication companies achieve greatness. The two important questions we ask: What does it take to achieve success immediately? And how can we get you ready for what’s coming next?”

Bob Sanders, Sanders Consulting Group

Master Your Agency Issues

We specialize in new business and client retention, account service training. In addition, we have helped many marketing firms with agency operations, productivity improvement, mergers and acquisitions, and all types of management concerns including exit planning, strategic alliances, partner formation and partnership dissolutions.

Just give us a call with your question, and if we don’t know the answer we know who to call. Having worked with over 5,000 marketing firms we’ve been involved with some of the most interesting, challenging, bizarre, and mundane issues in the world. We’re happy to chat and perhaps we can help. The call is free – 412.897.9329 or just shoot us a note – [email protected] and lets set up a time.


Photo by Afterborn