In an age where customers are more readily looking for digital services as a priority, 'Digital First' has become the main approach for most brands. This pace of change in the digital landscape is enough to disrupt many set businesses. Just when you think you have perfected the formula of success, something new is launched, which changes the entire landscape.
So, whatever we are doing, regardless of our level of expertise, are soon going to completely get transformed into a commodity. If we cannot provide the solution at a lesser cost, then someone else will. Hence, we see consulting firms building content development capabilities (powerhouses) and News channels using AI algorithms to create web content and articles. The world is shifting from the duopoly of Google and Facebook to consultancies with digital expertise such as Deloitte and Accenture who are claiming to know how to connect with consumers better and cheaply, using data and machine learning.
As a mentor and strategic Creative Director, I see that, while a lot of agencies have adapted to the latest trends and technologies, the old agency model has already become a commodity. Driven by technological developments, evolving consumer habits, and cost pressures, the old model is under severe pressure and is bound to change.
Newer technologies are disrupting the marketplace on a regular basis. The advertising industry is experiencing an environment where their age-old structures/processes are failing to bring great profits, both for the clients and for themselves. Let me share an example to describe how the services of a typical advertising agency are challenged by the new age technology. A decade ago, if I were to hire a cab service to go to 4 different locations in a city, I would have to book the services of a cab company much in advance and adhere to all their whims and fancies (which could include paying a premium for the extra stops, paying for the refreshments of the cab driver, paying for the extra hours beyond the stipulated 8 hours slot, not deviating from my route plan, etc.), but today in the age of app driven cab services, I don't need the old customised cab services.
Similarly, when one can avail of these modern services - which are faster, convenient and cheaper, the advertising agencies can no longer keep selling the customised private cab services to their clients. The outdated processes and services need to go or face extinction. The faster we learn how to add value to the cab hiring experience; the better is our chance to progress.
The technological disruption and disintermediation will only deepen as we progress, leading brands to look inwards/in-house. The digital disruptions like the AI based algorithms will help target digital ads to get greater outcomes, with less spends.
What am I solving?
So rather than focusing on, what do you do? Let's focus on, "What problem can I solve for the brand?" Figuring out what is that unique marketing challenge that we are solving for the brand, something that no one else on earth can solve. Or say what is that unique goal, I want to achieve that no one else has even thought of? What purpose do we hold that can never be matched?
This new strategic imperative to find purpose is the new challenge faced by most marketers across the world. The truth is what we are doing now, will completely and forever transform into a commodity in times to come.
So, I think whether it is the agency of the future or brand consultancy firms, there is going to be no set formulas or set of capabilities. Nor can they hope to sell customised services and survive. It will have to be a team built around a unique purpose, who are constantly evolving, adapting and experimenting for the brands to drive more value. It could be a set of experts, beyond just the copy, art and servicing people; from various streams of sciences, psychology, biology, analytics, music and others.
And this collective set of people who bring value - which just cannot come only from the craft or through analysis of the data science, but a collective team effort to solve a unique marketing problem.
And the faster we realize this the better it will be for us. We at CF+ Consulting have already started working towards it and are seeing a lot of traction. There are bottlenecks, but they are good for course corrections. Yes, the stigma of still being looked upon as 'Vendors' exists but I guess partnership takes time and we will have to be mature to see it through.
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