Archives for posts with tag: Agency


The marketing world is filled with words like fans, followers, likes, fans, loyalty, engagement, commitment, participation, community, and so on and on and on and on, giving every marketer the false hope and idea what marketing should be about.

It would be beneficial for all stakeholders (clients, agencies and customers) to start with the assumption that nobody cares about what we do. This might make us feel depressed, less important and kind of useless. Still, at least we’re starting from the right point and it helps us focus on our work in the right way.

Don’t be sad: Nobody cares what anybody does.

Nobody cares about the 500+ TV channels, the thousands of magazines and radio stations, the millions of podcasts and gazillions of websites. There’s so much stuff out there, we don’t even have a tiny chance to consume 0,0001% of it. All this media is like the Atlantic, engulfing people with content wave after wave, competing with anything else that’s interesting, useful, or entertaining. With so many temptations surrounding us, seeping out of millions of screens, we should never assume anybody will notice anything we do. Oh, and don’t even assume anybody does care. Don’t kid yourself.

It gets worse: People don’t care about brands.

As a brand, you don’t want people to think about your brand too much. A strong brand will help people make quick, easy and gut-driven purchase decisions. If you’re an Apple fanboy, you don’t think about Dell or HP. It’s going to be Apple, no matter what. Strong brands solve problems. When your favorite beer is Guiness, you don’t have a beer problem. When Acura is your car brand, you don’t have a car problem. No thinking required, no decisions. No worries about price, quality or reviews.

The myth of brand loyalists

Another marketing myth is that the ultimate goal is to create brand loyalists and permanent relationships. People might ‘like’ your brand but they ‘like’ their dog 10,000 times more. For sure, people don’t love brands. They love their favorite pillow 10 million times more than your brand. Using the language of deep human emotions for brands trivializes those feelings. Brands are desperately looking for those lovers, those special ones. If you base your brand on loyalists, you will have a small party in a studio apartment in Manhattan. Brands are built by millions of light customers who buy the brand once in a while.

It’s easy to market to people who actively seek you out and use your product/services frequently. It’s hard to market to people who don’t know you, who don’t care about you, see you frequently. And, don’t get me started with the new buzzword “audience”. An audience goes to a Coldplay concert or watches the latest Spiderman movie. Advertising doesn’t have an audience, waiting for the show to start.

It gets worse.

The vast majority of advertising produced is horrendous. Go to some sad cable channel and try to stick around for the commercial breaks. Try not to change the channel within seconds. Good luck. It’s mental and creative pollution. Another proof point for people not to care about advertising.

That’s a good starting point.

At the bottom of enmity between strangers lies indifference – Soren Kierkegaard.

It’s easy to be loved, even easier to be hated. But it’s really hard to overcome indifference. You can get 1% of potential customers engaged and create participatory communities for them. It doesn’t help you when it comes to the bottom line. The real goal should be to engage the remaining 99% and that means fighting indifference.

The majority of efforts on social platforms is now limited to activating the 1% and going to church afterwards, praying the 1% will spread and amplify the word. It’s good, but not good enough. It’ll earn you brownie points but doesn’t improve business results. Unless you’re happy talking to a minority, we need to focus mainly on the 99%.

You will be judged how you engage the indifferent masses, the ones that don’t care. It starts with answering the most important questions: Why should they care more about you than all the other gazillion options they have? What’s the point? What’s in it for them?


Everybody is talking about creativity. When politicians start talking about creativity, you know we’re in the middle of a creativity bubble.

What does creativity look like? Where should it come from? Who’s responsible? How best to harness it?

In a client-agency relationship, the creative department is typically tasked to express creativity and keep it limited to that department. What’s the purpose of creativity within an agency?

Is the model of creativity a new idea support model that we can sell to clients? Is it a model focused on consolidating creative output within core, traditionally creative functions? Resulting in hiring ‘creative’ people who act different than the rest of us.

Or should we expand this model and give everyone in the agency the opportunity to be ‘creative’, whatever your title or rank? This model requires that creativity becomes more accessible, more within reach for those who don’t traditionally regard themselves to be ‘creative’ for whatever reason.

We need both.

I bet there’s no agency in the world that doesn’t want more creativity at its centre. At the same, viewing creativity solely as the preserve of a certain ‘type’ is all wrong, and probably cuts you off from potential value people can bring. Because a creative organization places creativity within the reach of everyone.

Creativity is about making new connections. And much more: Creativity is open-ended. Creativity is never finished, or a box you can tick. It relies on knowing more stuff so that you can make more connections.

Which raises an interesting question:

Do agencies really want creativity?

Creativity can actually be harnessed pretty simply given the right processes and a certain level of organizational commitment. If more connections come from knowing stuff, then agencies need to create a culture of curiosity.

Which is much harder.

Curiosity is an innate motivation. It’s established early in your childhood. You can’t brainstorm yourself to curiosity. It comes from people and can’t be engineered. It might be stimulated through feedback. It shouldn’t be considered as its own reward. It should be required as a basic mindset to be regarded for an agency job.

Should there be a Curiosity Director? A Curiosity department?


Neophile: A neophile can be defined as a personality type characterized by a strong affinity for novelty.

Neophiles have the following characteristics:

  • The ability to adapt rapidly to extreme change
  • A distaste or downright loathing of tradition, repetition, and routine
  • A tendency to become bored quickly with old things
  • A desire, bordering on obsession in some cases, to experience novelty

Psychologists have tracked neophiles over time. This is what Psychology Today had to say about them:

“Looking under the hood of the person high in novelty-seeking, it seems that dopamine, the pleasure neurotransmitter, seems to be involved.  According to research conducted by Zalid et al (2009), high dopamine activity in a specific part of the midbrain is higher in individuals high in novelty-seeking, even after controlling for age and gender. An orientation toward reward could help account for the relationship between the desire to seek out new experiences and a tendency to develop addictive behaviors.

Some forms of novelty-seeking may, on the plus side, may be related to creativity. According to Marvin Zuckerman, people who seek pleasure from new experiences are also likely to be more creative. The ability to have big ideas seems to require a certain degree of enjoyment of expanding your mental horizons into new territory.

Novelty-seeking, then, is a mixed bag in terms of its ability to get you through life. To get the most benefit from novelty-seeking, it’s important to keep the balance in mind between sameness and change. New may be better than old, but not at the cost to your mental health.”

Advertising was always a meeting point for neophiles. We had to find new ideas, new insights, new ways of connecting with people.

The emergence of new platforms, new channels and new bright shiny objects has moved the industry to pathological extremes of neophilia. I’ve met with a client recently that planned on delivering their messages through 28 channels. They had enough budget to disseminate their message to the point where it is spread so thin, they are ensured to make no impact.

Brands should not create confusion. Their communication planning should deliver a cogent vision and definition of their values. Only then customers will contribute to the brand, rather than spreading confusion. When Social Media gives the customer the possibility to mass-publish any thought or personal opinion, a comprehensive and well-defined definition of a brand is more important than ever.

Agencies should be in the business of building brands.

The agency neophiles are diluting  brands.


Under the title “More gain, less strain: Optimizing marketing partner performance and value in a digital world”, the CMO Council published an analysis of how marketers are optimizing marketing partner performance and value in a digital world.

It’s not a pretty picture

  • Just 9% of marketers believe traditional ad agencies are doing a good job of evolving and extending their service capabilities.
  • 58% of marketers are unsatisfied with the current process of measuring their agencies’ advertising effectiveness.
  • 55% of senior marketers do not systematically evaluate creative impact, and 58% are unsatisfied with the evaluation process associated with benchmarking their agencies’ creative advertising effectiveness.
  • Only 36% of marketers are committed to their agency relationships, with 49% saying that they may consolidate or change their global agency rosters.
  • 32% are looking at selective replacement in their agency rosters, 9% see increased turnover of resource, and another 9% are decreasing the use of agencies.

A small bright spot in a dark environment

Marketers are continuing their search for new insights: 48% consider the most important value and gain from outside agencies fresh ideas, analytics and perspectives. 39% are looking for new methodologies and creative approaches.

When reviewing and evaluating agency relationships, the majority of multi-national marketers look at strategic contributions (57%) and business value created (56%).

The frustration is palatable

The survey respondents also ranked the top five causes of pain and friction in their agency relationships: (in order)

  • Lack of an agreed-upon set of analytics and metrics that defines success and failure
  • Limited knowledge and comprehension of the client’s business
  • Lack of value-added strategic thinking
  • Pricing and budgeting issues
  • Integration of marketing plans and services

Do marketers get what they pay for?

As we all know, marketing expenditures are under incredible pressure from CMO’s and procurement.  While marketers complain about lack of knowledge and comprehension of their business, they don’t seem willing to pay agencies to acquire this knowledge.

A lack of knowledge and comprehension will lead to lack of value-added strategic thinking. The agency might be able to give out some creative candy, but no filling, strategic meals.

Being so unprepared to market a client’s business, the chance of success is diminishing and there’s no benefit in succinctly defining failure and success.

Ultimately, resulting in pricing and budgeting issues.

It takes two to tango

Marketers have to understand that agencies are not lazy or disinterested in learning about the client’s business. Structurally, the client-agency relationship is not set-up for such a learning experience.

On the other hand, agencies need to set parameters for success and failure at the pitch. The pitch meeting should be the occasion where both parties set expectations, discuss challenges and solutions. It should be less about fireworks, grandiose creative and big promises. More about business decisions, culture check and partnership processes.

The current pitch meeting with all its confetti is best suited for a fling. As any married couple with a few decades under their belt will tell us, confetti gets annoying after a while. Long-term relationships are built on trust, transparency and authenticity.  No confetti needed.


When you enter the agency world, you quickly learn that all agency folks are in line to be admitted to Mensa and all clients should be on the slow bus.

‘They just don’t get it.’

For most agency folks, clients are only intelligent and well-informed when they agree with THEIR opinion.

Oh boy, when clients disagree the insults are flying quickly.

What most agency folks don’t get is that they weren’t hired to develop the craziest campaign ever, the best Facebook page ever, the most creative mobile solution ever.

Any agency was hired to make more money for the client.


And that’s why I believe agencies need to hire entrepreneurs today.

I’ve been running my own business for 18 months now.

It tests your will, your passion, your morals, your ethics and everything you stand for.

When you work for an agency you always have somewhere to hide.

When it’s your shop, you can’t hide anywhere.

When you were on the agency side, a $100,000 investment meant nothing to you. Because you had no skin in the game.

When you have a small shop, an investment of $1,000 might mean the world to you.

That’s why every agency should hire entrepreneurs today

They know that every penny counts.

They know there are more factors than marketing/advertising to make your product/service successful.

They have less ego and more success metrics on their minds.

Don’t feel intimidated by entrepreneurs.

Embrace them.


via Alvin Diec


This post was first featured on Jack Myers’ MediaBizBloggers site

News just hit a few days ago that ZenithOptimedia UK, for many the original home of the modern media agency, is to be believed to split up following a restructure at group level. StarcomMediaVest Group is also rumored to face reorganization in the UK. Besides speculation, nobody really knows the real reason behind the ZenithOptimedia split. We just continue to experience transformative changes in the media/advertising business.

Is the idea of a monolithic agency dead?

Not yet, we still see a lot of consolidation and business models that are stuck in the past idea of being an agency that can do everything.

We need to creatively destruct the idea of a monolithic agency. We need to advance more flexible and fluid models that expand and contract effortlessly, based on client needs. We need to be able to bring in new expertise when needed and drop old expertise when it doesn’t have any value anymore. Agencies need to explore more “free agent” and distributed team models, utilize social technologies to encourage collaboration and co-creation.

The agency of the future

So, what will the agency of the future look like?

· Much smaller.

· Focused on strategy and creative leadership, supported by account management.

· A Chief Marketing Technologist will work as a team with the Creative Director.

· Media Planning and Media Buying will become two separate divisions. Again.

· A small pool of full-time employees and a large pool of free agent experts

The time of McMansion agencies is about to end. It’s about time.


This post appeared first on the site

1. The strategy includes the fragment “we will drive traffic to the micro-site”

Micro-sites had their time but it’s a time long past. Building brand experiences totally removed from the platforms people use daily and share content with their Social Graph is a strategy destined to fail. And cost you a lot of money to “drive” people to that solitary microsite.

2. Customers are considered an audience

The majority of your customers have transformed from passive consumers to active producers. They review, link, share, write, create. Marketing is about behavior change. In this age, it’s almost impossible to turn passive consumption into active participation/behavior change. Instead, focus on digital initiatives that allow people to participate: polls, question, interactions, and co-creation.

3. A reliance on buying attention

Buying disruptive advertising to get attention is not as effective as earning attention through interesting content or collaborative efforts. Good marketing earns attention. It draws you in, it makes people give away their precious time to engage with the marketing product. It’s a story well told. It’s an insight revealed.

4. The strategy includes the word ‘viral’

The viral metaphor has been abused and misquoted until it lost all its meaning. You can’t create something that just self-propagates. People pass things around in the digital world for their own social reasons. Tap into those social reasons and you will be able to create a piece of content people want to share with others.

5. Social Media is regarded as another channel

All your traditional media (offline and online) has to be social: Feeding the social platforms you chose and feeding off them. Social is not everything but everything is social.

6. They talk all day long about brand positioning

We learned a long time ago that brands can’t be everything to everybody. Brand positioning was born. In an age where brands are defined by people, brand positioning has lost its value. Modern brands have a point of view. A very strong point of view that will turn off many people and turn on your customers.

7. The majority of objectives and goals are about media metrics, not your business goals

Would you rather have an advertising campaign with an engagement rate of 20% and sales increase of 0.2% or a marketing campaign with an engagement rate of 4% and sales increase of 12%? Real brand-agency partnerships look at the business holistically, not judge the performance by the media spreadsheet.

And a bonus sign:

It’s just about you and them. Not the customer.

Take your marketing hat off for a second: As a customer, would you like to get spammed 532 Foursquare offers when you walk around a mall? Or do you want something useful, something that improves your life? It’s so easy to fall into the trap of bright, shiny objects and squeeze everything out of them until they’ve become another spam bot. It might be beneficial for the short-term but it doesn’t do anything for long-term brand equity. Customers are not a walking wallet, they are a key stakeholder in the success of your company.


Image: Courtesy of

Fear passes from man to man
As one leaf passes its shudder
To another.
All at once the whole tree is trembling
And there is no sign of wind.
– Charles Simic

Most marketers live a fear-driven life in which thoughts, decisions and actions are motivated by fear. Fear is quite insidious. It creeps into our lives and stops us from doing the things we want. Fear stops marketers from experiencing things that could really allow them to grow a brand into greatness.

We experienced this fear-driven marketing paradigm in the first stages of the digital revolution. How many PowerPoint presentations were developed to convince brands to invest some of their traditional dollars in digital initiatives? I must have created at least 50 decks just speaking to that topic. Someone must have listened because digital marketing spend is increasing yearly. But the tactics are not changing – It continues to be about reach: According to Razorfish and their media budget report for 2009, site specific buys commanded more than 30 percent of client budgets, search and directory buys held 25 percent, ad networks had 20 percent, and portals had more than 10 percent. Proving my point: Fear reigns supreme in marketing.

While the tool boxes have changed dramatically, the marketing paradigm hasn’t shifted a bit: Reach at an affordable cost. Period. End of story. Clients have entrusted me with rather large digital accounts and this is what you get when you engage in the ‘Reach Game’: Tons of impressions that nobody can account for, horrendous click-through rates and a bunch of visitors to your site. To save your job, you better negotiate a few awareness studies with publishers, communicating to executives that people actually saw your advertising and responded positively. Did they respond to your product or the ad? Will the positive response lead to purchase? Oh, come on, you’re asking too many questions. We already had to bribe the respondents with Amazon gift cards, can’t be too specific in our questions.

Sure, marketers venture out of their fear-driven existence once in a while to develop a Facebook page or even allow for a Twitter feed. As Razorfish’ report indicates, these are just some crumbs of the overall marketing pie. Marketers continue to go for the Time Square stunts, Yahoo home page takeover, plastering their advertising all over the Web in the spirit of “You can run but you can’t hide” and the always popular celebrity endorsement. Why? Because it’s safe. It’s what they taught us in marketing school decades ago. And the C-Level suite understands reach metrics.

Ironically, because most marketers don’t take risks they risk the existence of the brand they are asked to grow and, ultimately, they risk their job. Don’t try to buy time by asking for gazillion decks explaining how Social Media can drive your business. (Just Google it – there are tons of case studies.) Don’t cover your behind by delaying any innovative Social Media initiative by letting Legal run the show. Stand up to everyone in the organization (even your agency) and lead your way out of fear. Dump tactics that don’t perform or are kept alive for any other reasons than driving sales. Allocate a healthy portion of your budget to innovative ideas. Take risks. Show your leadership. And kick fear. Hard.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they simply cannot learn, change, feel, grow, love, live…
Chained by their attitudes they are slaves.
Only the person who risks is free.

(Author unknown)