We are on the cusp of a truly transformational period in the marketingservices industry. The old guard, rooted in tradition and resistant to change, will fall and new leaders will emerge. The industry will be redefined by marketing agencies that are more nimble, tech savvy, open, and collaborative. Digital servicesnwill be ingrained into the DNA of every agency, and blended with traditional methods to execute integrated campaigns. Agencies will create and nurture diverse recurring revenue streams through a mix of services, consulting, training, education, publishing, and software sales. They will use efficiency and productivity, not billable hours, as the essential drivers of profitability. Their value and success will be measured by outcomes, not outputs. Their strength and stability will depend on their willingness to be in a perpetual state of change, and an ability to execute and adapt faster than competitors. The depth, versatility, and drive of their talent will be the cornerstones of organizations that pursue a higher purpose.
This is the future of the marketing-services industry. A future defined and led by underdogs and innovators. You have the opportunity to be at the forefront of the transformation.
In February 2004, I came to a life-changing realization—the marketing agency model was broken and had been for years. Although I was only four years into my career at that time, a number of contributing factors had become obvious to me:
Billable hours were inefficient at best. Professionals were more worried about meeting hour quotas than delivering the level of service and quality needed to produce measurable results for clients.
There was little differentiation between firms, and a lack of innovation within the industry.
Training and education were stagnant. Firms and universities were teaching the same systems, principles, and services that had been applied for decades. Request for proposals (RFPs) were a waste of time and energy, for both clients and agencies. Standard measurement systems, such as press clippings, impressions, reach, ad equivalency, and PR value were meaningless, and they had no real connection to bottom-line results.The industry was ripe for disruption.
THE OPPORTUNITY TO EMERGE
Fast-forward to today, and many of the same challenges exist. Traditional firms—public relations (PR), advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), and web—are fighting to remain relevant by
grasping for new services, such as social, mobile, and content, rather
than focusing on what really matters, including pricing, technology,
staffing, infrastructure, processes, and purpose.
As a result, there are unparalleled opportunities for emerging
agencies and consultants to transform, disrupt, and thrive within
the developing marketing services ecosystem.
The agencies and professionals with the will and vision to adapt
and evolve will rise, and many traditional and digital-only firms will
CAUSES FOR CHANGE
The forces that are fueling transformation can be narrowed down to three primary catalysts—change velocity, selective consumption, and success factors—which we will explore throughout the book:
The rate of change, continually accelerated by technology innovations,
has created growing demand for tech-savvy, forward-thinking firms Specifically, trends and shifts in consumer behavior, business processes, software, data analysis, communications, and marketing philosophies have affected the need for evolved services and consulting.
Consider the impact and meteoric rise of cloud computing, virtualization, social networking, mobility, and group buying as examples. We live in a real-time world, which demands real-time agencies.
Although change velocity presents challenges, it also provides significant advancement opportunities. Technology has made it possible to create remarkably efficient agency management and client services systems that lower operating costs, while increasing productivity and profitability.
Agencies have access to a wealth of reliable software-as-a-service
(SaaS) platforms in the areas of time tracking, project management, customer-relationship management (CRM), lead nurturing, website content-management systems (CMS), sales, accounting, data storage, campaign management, monitoring, analytics, enterprise social networks, virtual meetings, and communications. Not only does this reduce the barrier to entry, but it makes it possible for emerging firms to more quickly compete with, and usurp, slower traditionalfirms.
Selective consumption is the basic principle behind inbound marketing, the philosophy made popular by HubSpot, a fast-rising Internet marketing software company. In essence, consumers are tuning
out traditional, interruption-based marketing methods, and choosing when and where to interact with brands.
They are conducting billions of Internet searches each month,
downloading case studies and ebooks, opting into e-mail newsletters, watching online videos, listening to podcasts, following brands
and professionals on social networks, joining online communities,
posting product reviews, and reading blogs, and they are increasingly doing it all from their mobile devices.
As a result, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer
(B2C) organizations in every industry are shifting budgets away
from print advertising, trade shows, cold calling, and direct mail
toward more measurable and effective inbound marketing strategies
that cater to consumer needs.
Savvy firms are capitalizing on the shift by expanding and integrating their service offerings in the areas of search, mobile, social,
content, analytics, web, PR, digital advertising, and e-mail marketing. They also are diversifying revenue streams and driving new business through affiliate relationships and value-added reseller
(VAR) partnerships with marketing software companies.
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