Are these the 3 types of agencies we need?

Tom Goodwin wrote an interesting piece for The Guardian where he talks about how to reinvent the agency structure. No rocket science but I think it’s an interesting take on the the current ‘structure’ if there is one and at least it does away with the classic ad agency / digital agency split in a way that makes sense:

Visionary agencies would be a group of innovators, technologists, futurologists and business strategists; they’d spend their time focusing on activity two years ahead and beyond. Their scope would be to improve the products/services made, on branding, positioning, and on understanding the future of marketing.

Brand agencies would be the closest agency to what we consider advertising today. A mixture of talent across all current agencies, to include PR, and some retail and talent from all new technologies, their job would be to build brands and classic upper-funnel activity. Their time horizon would be three months to two years. These are artists that design and shape the brand, and then produce ads and marketing to tell that story, and build brand equity.

Performance agencies would focus on the next two months. Their scope would be to understand how to tweak marketing and communication tactics, how to use automation, clever SEO, retail out-of-home advertising, flow advertising, creative optimisation, real-time marketing, short term PR, promotions at retail and many other tools to perfect the conversion of equity into sales, or in other words, largely lower-funnel activity.

 

Who are you?

Customer centric. Customer focus. I’ve heard it so many times, I’ve seen it written on dozens of business missions or as part of a brand’s values. Yet, I don’t believe it. Because quite frankly if you think about the business decision process within companies, which topics do you reckon come first on the list? Those about what the customer wants… or rather those about margin, reducing costs, maximizing revenue etc? And then you think maybe companies realize that as well, since we’re all buzzin’ about the consumer decision journey and stuff like that.

And let’s assume that companies really are customer centric. I wonder how they make it work, because simply put a lot of companies have no idea who their customers are. To illustrate this point I always show this little movie again: “The Break Up” (aka “Bring the love back”).

And I show it not so much for the reason it was created in 2007 but for this little bit where the advertiser replies to the consumer about not really knowing her:

“Know you? Sweetheart I know everything there is to know about you. You’re 28 … to 34, you’re online interests include music, movies and … laser hair removal. You have a modest but dependable disposable income. Am I the only one not getting the problem?”

That sounds about accurate. That sounds like how companies ‘know’ their customers indeed. So the point is, if you don’t really know who your customers are, how can you be customer centric? You can’t.

And that’s a huge issue of course. So it you really care about the full customer experience, you automatically care about who those customers really are. Thanks to research or just talking to them. Who are those people? What is keeping them up at night? What are their dreams? Etc. Companies do a lot of research to see how people feel about their brand, whereas they should research how people feel about themselves… and how they can affect that (dixit Lou Carbone).

The end of advertising as we know it

Or why everything old is new again. Read this great post by Guillaume Van der Stighelen (co-founder of the agency I work for) about advertising and bean counters. About how this new crisis gives yet again a reason to be average. Things will never be the same. Enjoy.

And while you’re at it, subscribe to the man’s Posterours. If you’re any bit interested in advertising you won’t regret.

2nd Edition: Age of Conversation

Some 18 months ago I was part of a project called the “Age of Conversation” and today I’m happy to announce that the second edition of the “Age of Conversation” is a fact. Instead of 100 authors there are over 200 contributors this time (not me anymore) and it’s themed around “Why don’t they get it”. Other than that, all proceeds still go to charity so to encourage you to by the hardcopy this time, John Moore lined up the ‘Money Quotes’ in one little presentation.

A friend’s birthday

It seems to be quite appropriate that the 2nd anniversary of the Blue Monster coincides with Steve Clayton’s birthday as Steve has been crucial  in getting the Blue Monster where it is today. Hugh Macleod has a nice little write-up about the Blue Monster history, well worth reading. For me this story started at a similar time that I got to know both Hugh (we met for the first time at LeWeb 2 years ago) and Steve and that’s how I got affected by our little blue friend. It was good getting to know all three of them.

In his post Hugh refers to what David Armano had to say about the Blue Monster, something he wrote after he and I met at MIX08 in Vegas:

“What’s to be learned? Blue Monster shows us that no matter how big or small the company that the world is a bigger place. And external influences can become internal influences. And it teaches us that if we are interested in the evolution of corporate culture, that symbols are important. If we don’t find our own—someone will find them for us.”

bluemonster Even more, the Blue Monster became an example of how companies can embrace social media. It has become an example of how a company (or anybody for that matter) can benefit from letting go of control. Just read through Rohit Bhargava’s “Personality Not Included” for instance, or the more recent “Crowd Surfing” from David Brain.

Hell no, the Blue Monster is not dead – it’s alive and kicking, not only within the spirit of many Microsoft employees but also outsiders are starting to see change. And did you read Hugh’s 7th point? Well the Blue Monster is going to Paris… but more on that soon ;) For now, it’s just happy birthday.