A friend of ours leads the Consumer Packaged Goods consultancy practice for Ernst and Young in Chicago. Recently, two separate clients asked him “how do we cut our marketing budgets in half?”
That is terrifying. For two reasons…
First, because the ad industry clearly lacks the perceived value we hoped it had earned.
And second, because no agency participated in those conversations. Which again shows how completely strategy has migrated from ad agencies to consultants.
This is yet more evidence that the AOR model is fast fading. As fewer and fewer clients invest in one-stop shopping for their marketing, more and more engage a number of specialists.
The upside? Clients can leverage category excellence in everything from SEO and social to content and design.
The downside? Clients must now act as creative directors. And that’s not a muscle they’ve spent much time developing.
Which is why we’re forging a new model to create value for brands: the Resource of Record. It’s efficient, it’s effective, and it’s creative centric.
As a Resource of Record, a creative agency can assign one or two creative directors to be deeply knowledgeable about and dedicated to a specific brand. Which vastly reduces overhead. And saves clients money.
But then, beyond their brand responsibilities, those dedicated creatives also partner with clients to review programs and work from other specialist marketers to insure everything ladders back up to the brand in the most creatively-engaging manner possible.
Given their focus on tactical expertise, most people who specialize in CRM or in-store engagement are less adept at pure brand work.
The emerging opportunity is to cross-pollinate, to upgrade creative and infuse a singular brand voice and tone into every touchpoint.
A Resource of Record lets clients do this far more efficiently with a partner they trust. And at a cost of three or four billable days a month.
The Resource of Record model discourages tired agency practices like adding offerings, layers and complexity to increase hours and expand their slice of the marketing pie. Instead, it embraces assigning specialties to the best practitioners but efficiently aligns and enhances all of them around one creative brand.
Clients have tried to do something similar in the past by bringing creative resources into their companies. Those initiatives rarely worked, as quality and retention pose huge obstacles.
Making a creative leader a consulting resource deftly avoids those issues as it vastly improves brand impact. And it goes a long way toward that hoped for result of radically-reducing marketing costs without compromising effectiveness. After all, if you save money but don’t earn anyone’s attention, you’re actually wasting money.
So today’s question is: do you need an entire agency? Or a focused resource?
Mike & Dennis