How To Combat The Complexity Of Marketing Services
Marketing and Communications professionals are currently operating in an environment never seen before – a phrase we have coined the ‘new normal’.
This was acknowledged at both the ANA Financial Management Conference and a panel discussion hosted by the Guardian with one discussion going so far as to say that because the current landscape was so vastly different there were no longer any cyclical patterns or trends that could be identified or learned from.
The biggest issue is that today’s environment is ridiculously complex. There are significantly more channels which equates to more disruption and change is around every corner.
The need for industry evolution
With the marcoms world so complex, the question then becomes, is the industry doing enough on a whole to evolve and keep up with the changes?
Many would argue no. Platforms and mediums have evolved and the consumer has become more sophisticated and demanding, but agencies are still operating in the same manner they were a decade ago. Clients demand work to be completed faster, better and cheaper yet because the big idea takes longer and execution is more complex it’s not possible – and because agencies haven’t evolved we are in a position where all sectors have cut costs except for the people profit line.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t getting pushed to breaking point though. Working hours are getting longer and more is expected from people in order to react to the changing landscape.
Better empowering staff
So, we are down to the last bastion – the people profit line – and something needs to change in order for agencies to survive. But how? How can agencies better enable their staff to work in an environment no one has ever experienced before?
A clear message from the Guardian event was to not be afraid of change or the unknown. According to the panel, change shouldn’t be a distraction, it should be exciting. Agencies lose something when they think there is only one way to handle things – this kind of thinking needs to go.
At the same time, there were comments about processes and decisions becoming more democratic and less hierarchal as teams moved into the unknown. While not explicitly stated, it appeared that there was somewhat of an acknowledgement that everyone in the agency, no matter seniority level, needs to chip in to attack challenges as the traditional model of management dealing with problems was no longer cutting it.
Using data and technology to succeed
There were useful comments at both events around the use of data and technology. The first was around using data to define strategy. In an environment that is drowning in data, the answers lie in ferreting out the information. While this can sometimes be tiresome, it marks the evolution in agency life and indeed consumer behaviours and trends.
Secondly, the industry has been talking about using technology solutions to remove headaches and the time to act is now. Removing the daily stress and struggle around agency operations and processes means that teams are freed up to focus on the next big idea or strategic decision. A good agency management system can automate a lot of manual tasks, help financial systems talk to each other and clear up misunderstandings around resourcing and capacity – ultimately taking the pressure off teams and giving them a better chance of pleasing the client and turning a profit. It’s hard to pinpoint what the agency of the future will look like, but at best guess the Guardian panel believed it would be freer and less hierarchical with less emphasis placed on the physical presence of the team. The creative culture and camaraderie was still seen as an essential aspect of agency life and it’s doubtful that will ever change. There is no denying the industry needs a shakeup though and technology has the power to do that – the time to let it is now.
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