Clients in the digital age expect advertising agencies to produce not only ads but creative solutions. These demands aren’t new, but the industry’s approach to meeting them is.
Instead of sticking to tried-and-true methods, agencies are adopting an agile approach and pivoting to meet client needs. This may mean handling a business-related problem that can’t be solved by a traditional advertising campaign. By personalizing processes for clients, advertising agencies can more easily navigate a shifting landscape.
The industry has reached a crossroads: Those agencies that leave room for change while staying true to their original mission are emerging on top, and the ones that refuse to adapt will ultimately fail.
The Changing Advertising Landscape
TV commercials and ad campaigns used to be an agency’s bread and butter. However, different platforms and emerging technology dictate a new era. Social media, online shopping, and new entertainment preferences affect the type of content that advertisers produce.
For example, social media has prompted the rise of tailored messaging. Ninety percent of social media users have directly interacted with a business via social channels. Additionally, consumer entertainment preferences affect advertisements — research shows that 41% of consumers want entertaining ads. A 30-second YouTube commercial might irritate users, but a well-designed two-minute video will probably intrigue them. That’s why 87% of businesses use video as a marketing tool.
Agencies need to employ new agile strategies in order to meet modern client and consumer expectations. Marketing leaders today laugh at old annual strategies, but even the quarterly plans that dominate the industry are too slow. The media landscape can change from one day to the next, and ad agencies need to adjust to that time frame.
Big plans are out. Instead of devising large-scale campaigns, ad agencies should focus on smaller day-to-day victories. Agile marketing should be fast-paced and concentrate on lead generation and conversion. New ideas and experiments should drive strategy rather than overarching goals, and milestones should be rewritten to suit the changing landscape.
The advertising industry is too volatile for agencies to remain at a standstill. If they want to succeed, they need to adapt and grow. Amazon started out as an online bookseller, but the company has grown into a massive digital marketplace that has maintained relevancy in a changing environment. Advertising agencies need to embrace a similar business plan.
Staying the course is no longer possible, but don’t throw out the original mission statement. In order to be agile, every team member needs to focus on the overall goal of the agency. If an agency’s goal is to provide the best solutions to client problems, then it can’t stick to unyielding service lines.
Consider a pillow company I worked with that was struggling to sell its products. Its customers didn’t realize that their pillows had shelf lives. Instead of running an advertising campaign, we recommended the company add an expiration date to every pillow sold. This built-in reminder encouraged customers to come back when needed, and it was the best solution for the company.
One of the reasons Blockbuster failed was not that it refused to compromise on its original mission — providing consumers the entertainment they crave — but because it didn’t change its delivery method. Even though technology and media consumption habits changed, the company’s strategy stayed the same. Blockbuster even passed on the opportunity to buy Netflix, which ultimately led to the company’s failure.
Agility is essential for company survival. Agencies need to ditch the big plans and be prepared to pivot if they want to continue meeting client needs.