What is the agency of the future?

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Mike Osborn
Mike Osborn

If you Google “agency of the future,” 104 million results bubble up. Points of view range from completely digital, to some combination of digital technology and social analytics with consumer insights.

So who really has it figured out?  Everyone says they're digital. But evolving into an agency of the future involves a lot more than that. You first need to figure out what you're good at, and let go of what you're not. Don't try to convince clients you're an expert in branding or Web analytics if you're not. Either specialize or hire the right talent — no agency can do it all.

It is also critical to embed digital thinking throughout your organization. Integrate digital across all platforms and channels. Everyone needs to get how digital strategy works and how behavior in one channel impacts the other. Otherwise, you end up with a bolted-on digital solution, and your clients will know it.

Next is getting rid of the silos. Bring creative, analytics and digital specialists to the table together at the outset. The entire team needs to understand how your clients make money. Restructure your agency, if necessary, so good ideas can emanate from all levels.

Don't forget to free up your account leads to focus on strategy. Digital campaigns are more labor-intensive and more complex. If your account leads spend half their day managing process, they won't have the bandwidth to focus on optimizing results. Form a project management department to manage the process. It is all for naught if you aren't genuinely invested in your clients' success. Put skin in the game, and take the time to understand their business. Visit their factories, warehouses and stores regularly. Know their customers better than they do. Clients want an agency that takes the guesswork out of marketing decisions.

Finally, when necessary, bring in best-in-class partners. Give clients access to top-notch solutions, and then manage the partnerships. Do it right, and you'll increase your business portfolio without having to acquire and integrate another agency.


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