In a world where brands are taking on more marketing responsibility, agencies are becoming increasingly worried that their craft is being phased out. It's hard out there for many companies, especially smaller boutique agencies who are stretched too thin with too few clients. It leads us to the big question: Will agencies fall into the abyss?
According to eMarketer chairman and co-founder Geoff Ramsey, the answer is no. Why? To paraphrase DigitasLBI and Razorfish chairman Rishad Tobaccowala, agencies are like cockroaches; they can and will survive anything. However, the survival of the agency model is predicated on them adapting to the new digital landscape and brand relationship. In order to do that, there are four challenges agencies must embrace and master in order to avoid irrelevance.
Agencies need to be expert learners of the consumer
One thing that brands rely heavily on agencies for is a deep, data-driven understanding of their customers. Brands that try to act as their own agency often don't have the knowhow or partnerships in place to gather insights to understand how to best market. Agencies can remain extremely relevant by proving that they are best at knowing and interpreting customer behavior through vetted analytics and experiential instinct.
They need to be highly immersed in new technologies
Agencies have the opportunity to emerge as the cool kids at the table. With innovative technologies hitting the market (wearables, the internet of things, etc.) most brands feel comfortable stepping back to see how the industry reacts. Agencies have the potential to be trailblazers for their clients when it comes to adopting new technology for meaningful marketing purposes. Those are the brands who will lead the new frontier.
Agencies have to be focused on storytelling first, marketing second
Creative marketers are -- at their core -- storytellers, and agencies are an ideal studio for them to work their magic. Brands are typically most concerned with immediate success metrics and sometimes forget that consumers really wants to know a brand's story, especially if they are going to become a loyalist. Apple, Red Bull, and Chipotle all do a fantastic job at telling their story first, and marketing to you second. Agencies are a fertile place for the cultivation of brand identities and creative ideas.
Agencies need to understand the dynamics that emotion plays on purchase intent
One underestimated factor for purchase behavior is consumer emotion. To the consumer, this is a no-brainer. However, with overloads of data and definite success benchmarks to hit, it's easy for marketers to overlook the power that emotion has on sales. Agencies are a perfect place for learning this cause and effect, and then using the conclusions to craft better marketing strategies for clients.
Geoff Ramsey speaks to iMedia about how agencies can stay relevant in a world where brands are taking on a bigger direct marketing role.
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Article written and video edited by senior media producer David Zaleski.