I had a slew of flights this week and was finally able to tear through a Forrester Research report called, The Connected Agency, by Mary Beth Kemp and Peter Kim. Peter was kind enough to shoot it over to me after we finally met in our "protein forms" at the ACA - Association of Canadian Advertisers - event, Continuing The Conversation, last April in Toronto. For the record, Peter is an awesome presenter and - if you get the chance - is not to be missed.
Here's the executive summary:
"Today's agencies fail to help marketers engage with consumers, who, as a result, are becoming less brand-loyal and more trusting of each other. To turn the tide, marketers will move to the Connected Agency — one that shifts: from making messages to nurturing consumer connections; from delivering push to creating pull interactions; and from orchestrating campaigns to facilitating conversations. Over the next five years, traditional agencies will make this shift; they will start by connecting with consumer communities and will eventually become an integral part of them."
The crux of this report focuses on these concepts:
1. Creative and media agencies are stuck in the mass media world.
2. Digital agencies "get" interaction but are newcomers to branding.
3. Specialist boutiques support social media.
4. New players compensate for left-brain deficiencies.
5. There are gaps with existing agencies.
So, what are the solutions? According to the report:
1. The need to move from messages to connections.
2. Media must move from push to pull interactions.
3. Operations have to move from campaigns to conversations.
What were my takeaways? Agencies (interactive and traditional) are both in flux. We're all trying to figure out this space and establish best practices. Marketing is, indeed, changing. Is it good or bad? I think it's all opportunity. Those who are threatened by the changes never really had a snowball's chance in hell. Those who embrace the change and flux will need to ramp up, get more experience (both in terms of resources and creativity), and they'll need to prove that they're not just about tactics, but that they get the brand and that they understand the underlying strategy behind it all.
Do we really have any choice? Doubtful. If we're not all acting like The Connected Agency, what are we doing?