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Happy Marketer Blog

Is It Time To Change The Client-Agency Conversation?

Posted by Srotoswini Roy on Feb 11, 2019 4:27:25 PM
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Let’s start with a little trivia. Which is the largest digital advertising network in the world?

If your answer was any of the top five usual suspects - the WPPs and Omnicoms of the world - then you should definitely consider giving me the next four minutes of your time!

According to Advertising Age’s 2018 Agency Report, Accenture Interactive is the largest digital advertising network, their third year in a row so hardly dismissable as an anomaly. In fact, when you run your eyes down the list you’ll find only one old-guard agency - Publicis.Sapient at #4. Among the top 5 in the list are IBM, Deloitte and PWC, all Consulting behemoths with deep pockets, high billables and even higher ambitions.

While the immediate natural reaction from agencies may be to assemble our troops to guard our turf, it is worthwhile to pause and evaluate the slingshot opportunity that arises from this inflection point. Marketing and advertising are no longer only a subjective, creative discipline driven by the Mad Men. With the growth of digital, marketing is transforming into an objective, data-driven, tech-stack-oriented discipline falling right into the wheelhouse of the consulting giants of the world.

One of the main reasons this is happening is because client expectations, concerns, and ambitions have evolved over the years. The marketing services industry is now catering to a client base that is hungry for transformation and innovation, not just campaign execution. And you know what they say, “The Customer is always right!”

Oh, how we have longed to change the conversation from the size of the logo to the objective of using the logo in the first place!

Finally, our clients are asking the questions we have always wanted to answer. What should my media budget be in order to achieve my business objectives? How should my marketing team be structured to support digital growth? What should my digital maturity roadmap look like and not just my annual campaign calendar?

Finally, agencies have a fair chance to get a seat at the Strategy table and not the Briefing table!

Advertising is now a C-suite conversation - the dynamics of that conversation is markedly different and calls for new vocabulary lessons.

Let’s take the example of a CMO from a traditional banking industry grappling with mounting encroachment from Fintechs and an evolving customer base. The Consultants are likely to talk to her about digital maturity maps, strategy roadmaps, innovation incubators, media audits, tech prototypes etc. The Agencies are likely to talk about creatives, media buying, the next flashy campaign, brand ambassadors etc. Who do you think she’s most likely to give 15 minutes of talk-time and subsequently the next big budget project?

Now put yourself in her shoes, imagine listening to the same buzzwords all day, every day, from different proposals and pitches yet rarely finding that sweet spot. What keeps her up at night? What missing link might she be looking for?

As an agency already in the trenches closest to market realities, we have a lot to offer if we elevate our conversation to engage with her problems while giving her a microscopic view of her market at the same time.

While approaching this inflection point, we at Happy Marketer have found it helpful to remember that this is not an either-or discussion, this is an opportunity discussion and opportunity is known to come in various shapes and sizes - one must only keep an open mind to recognize that knock on the door!

So if you are a Brand or an Agency or a Consultancy and if you are ready to change the conversation then we at Happy Marketer are eager to participate! In the next few blogs in this series, we would like to share our learnings and spark a new conversation - leave us a comment and let’s talk :)

Topics: Digital Strategy, digital transformation, data driven marketing

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