Why Traditional Marketing Agencies are Failing … and what to do about it
By David J Dunworth
Traditional marketing agencies that offer full service marketing, advertising and public relations services are disintegrating. Firms that have stood the test of time are filing Chapter 7, or re-organizing under Chapter 11. Why? Like so many others, these overly-staffed traditionalists failed to focus on the changing landscape of the digital age. Smaller, leaner and tech-savvy digitally-astute agencies are gaining market share on a daily basis.
The same holds true for marketing departments in the Fortune 1000 and multi-national companies. Chief Marketing Officers are faced with the same dilemma, and unless they switch tactics, are doomed to receiving the layoff notice. Long time successful CMO’s like Nigel Dessau of Intel, Julie Ann Robertson of National Wildlife Foundation and Charlie Lawrence of Franke all found themselves in a state of transition this past year. While they each found themselves outside looking in, the digitization of marketing had a role in their departures.
If the digital experience in traditional firms is limited and overhead top heavy with traditional marketing executives, it will create a “falling behind with little hope of catching up” belief system unless things change rapidly. In this sweeping digital age, that is a formula for disaster.
What’s a CMO or Agency to do?
The Corporate Executive Board has developed an Agility Diagnostic Survey tool that assists CMO’s and Marketing Agencies determine their agility quotient. Anna Bird of the CEB states that “Marketing leaders are grappling with some tricky questions these days. They need to adapt to a more digitized, fragmented and faster-changing consumer landscape, but with limited budgets they have to make a lot of trade-offs.”
My Recommendations: Get with it; digital that is. Take a good look at how you intend to fulfill your mission with existing methodologies, customer needs and your ability (agility) to fulfill those requirements. If you need to, eliminate some of the traditionalists and identify digitally talented marketers for that needed aspect of the game.
Where can you find them? This economic storm currently overwhelming us has created a huge supply of available “soloists.” Entrepreneurial tasks as content providers, SEO and social media consulting and service, as well as micro-agencies offer the types of services that meet the agility quotient necessary that small to medium sized businesses require. The bottom line-hire more freelancers, and create strategic alliances with those groups that can bring in the work quickly, while you try to catch up. A Google search will overload you with prospective talent.
The days of the Madison Avenue heavyweight firms dominating the marketing and public relations landscape may be ending, unless those mammoth firms get lean and become agile like their smaller, quicker to deliver competitors.
How are you handling your company marketing?
Good & Happy Marketing!
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