The superhero-agency you’re trying to become.


I normally avoid talking about the agency-of-the-future-like stuff, but circumstances make me think about it nonetheless. Yes, I’m comparing advertising agencies with superheroes in this post, and yes I know how narcissistic that isΒ  πŸ™‚

These are the years when an agency changes into the agency it will be for the rest of it’s life. Just be careful who you change into.

First of all, there is no average client, just like there’s no average consumer. Every clients’ needs are different. Some might need the best digital agency in the area, some need the best digital area in the world. But let’s face it, some don’t need digital at all. Some need a solid traditional agency. A type of agency they know and feel comfortable working with. An agency with good digital skills, of course, there is an Olympic minimum. But not necessarily specialized in the digital area.

Before anyone starts yelling “What you talking ‘bout, fool! Digital is the future!” I would like to point out that we’re living in 2010, and not all communication is online. Although I believe digital will be even more indispensable in the near future, I don’t believe it will be the one-and-only needed skill for a great agency. Like it is so often the case, agency people don’t always have a fir grasp of how “normal” people experience the technology evolution. We’re usually ahead of trends and new technologies and we easily tend to believe people are at the same level of adoption as ourselves. I saw a perfect example appear while I was writing this. GAP did a simple contest: People had to check in using facebook places in a GAP store, and some of those people could win a free pair of jeans or something like that. A lot of people had no clue what was expected of them, and were, frankly, a bit frustrated. (HT @tijs) The old, ask-your-mom-test still applies to advertising, people. How long has it been since you’ve asked your mom what she thinks about the work you’ve done?

But back to the original question, what type of agency are marketeers looking for? As these are the times in which many agencies are reinventing themselves, some things, besides just coping with the digital revolution, shouldn’t be forgotten:

A marketeer will look for an agency that…

  • understands them and their brand.
  • understands their needs as a brands’ spokesperson, but also their needs as a person.
  • listens: listening to each other is the key to a good conversation.
  • puts the brands’ needs first instead of their own trophy shelf at the reception desk.
  • is filled with people with whom it is easy and fun to connect. Chemistry is so very important!
  • lights up their day after a visit. Preferably with cool work and with stuff that they would want to share with their colleagues and with their spouses when they come home.
  • has all basic communication skills mastered: By the way, agencies should stop using “digital” as a magic word to stun clients and prospects. It’s a fundamental part of a solid communication strategy, not a hot new buzz word.
  • an agency that, despite of the innovation frenzy, still knows how to get people to do things. An agency that, thanks to the innovation frenzy, now sees even more opportunities and options to get people to do things. Simple things like buying their product, or signing a petition. And yes, getting people to share their message.
  • will not fall for the trap of technology overload. Just read this: Open letter to all of advertising and marketing.

Yes we have new shiny tools like Radian 6 and all sorts of tracking software. Yes we have the power to engage people worldwide for a commercial cause… We can pretty much do everything we want to sell sell sell. But just like Peter Parkers’ uncle Ben said:

With great power comes great responsibility.


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