Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Role of the Agency: Business Shrink

Assuage me.

This is the telepathic message every marketer cries out to a prospective vendor. Sure, some are more confident than others in their ability to build new relationships with consumers, but we all know that the game is changing so rapidly that, well, historical precedents and benchmarks are few and far between.

Psychologically, we can use specific keywords to ease the conversation, words like 'listening', 'advocacy' and 'brand loyalty', but these often fall into a rhetorical place that has no logical return, particularly on investment or intent.

So perhaps we need to get real about the landscape. 

Service layer bundling is already a necessary function of any agency. Either you play in the same sandbox with folks in your peer group, or you run the risk of being shut out by virtue of your resource pool. You can't really hold your cards all that tightly to your chest, because if you do, you'll lose out on critical business opportunities.

Regarding the business opportunities themselves, you can run a separate P&L, but the fact remains that your bottom line has to be tied in some way to that of the client's. Gotta have some skin in the game, son. Especially if we're dealing with outreach strategies and devices that are largely experimental in nature.

We're already at the tipping point. Soon, we will arrive at the transformative point. 

My guess is that we - as in our collective media mass - will be whittled down to publishers, networks and portals, in which we create conversational loops between marketers and consumers and fulfill very specific market needs. 

What is and what will continue to evolve is a new marketplace. What goes in it can be anyone's guess, but rest assured, it will be dictated and navigated by the stakeholders in brands.

Good luck to us all, the future is careening around the corner, Godspeed.

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