For Ad Agencies, a Call to Act as Consigliere

Yield Software · October 5, 2009 · Short URL:

…or Risk Getting Whacked by Your Clients

Baseball BatIn an August post written for the Small Agency Diary blog, Tom Martin talks about how ad agencies have neglected to act in their clients’ best interests. Writes Martin:

We’ve slacked off. We don’t invest nearly enough in our people and resources to ensure we are actually ahead of our clients and in a position to look around the corner and see what’s coming. We have a serious talent gap in our senior-management ranks, and we’ve (by and large) forfeited sound strategy in favor of cheap production tricks and cute one-liners that will line our shelves with awards but not necessarily our clients’ shelves with dollar bills.

To address these issues, writes Martin, agencies can take a cue from The Mob, specifically the Consigliere. For those of you not hip to Mafia speak, the Consigliere is the person the Mob boss turns to for insight and advice before making any big decisions. Most importantly, the Consigliere is the only person who can challenge the boss – and not get whacked at the knees with a baseball bat for doing so.

So how can you act as your clients’ Consigliere? You can begin by educating yourself and your agency about how the Internet and the Link Economy have changed business as we know it.

According to global research conducted by IBM, the “next five years will hold more change for the advertising industry than the previous 50 did.” And part of this huge shift is how buyers find products and services. The survey authors noted that of the more than 2,400 consumers and 80 advertising experts surveyed, most find their information online:

Consumers are increasingly in control of how they view, interact with and filter advertising in a multichannel world as they continue to shift their attention away from linear TV and adopt ad-skipping, sharing and rating tools. Survey results suggest personal PC time now rivals TV time.

Because buyers’ attention has shifted to the Internet, it’s crucial that you push your clients to use new media tactics in order to deliver the results they want. This means that you may have to tell them they need an updated, professionally designed, optimized for search engines website. Or that they need to consider social media because their customers are hanging out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube – instead of reading the paper or watching TV.

Giving this type of advice might mean you’ll have to redesign and optimize your own agency’s website in order to be a good example to your clients. As social media guru David Meerman Scott points out in his Web Ink Now blog post, “Advertising agency websites: Digital Masterbation,” agency websites are “light on compelling content” and instead rely on Flash intros and black-and-white photos of agency personnel with funky stuff in the background in order to show that they’re “cool.”

However, none of this cool stuff puts any dollars in your clients’ pockets – or yours, either, to be honest.

If you want to change this scenario, get on board with the whole “Internet thang.” Learn about search engine optimization and pay-per-click and how you can use both to generate Internet-based leads for your agency. Then use what you learn and apply it to your clients’ marketing objectives.

As more and more traditional ad agencies (and even public relations firms) are beginning to address how best to serve their clients’ emerging marketing needs, it’s critical that you consider the enabling technologies, strategies and tactics that will ensure you to deliver the best possible advice and guidance.  If you don’t, you risk being just one more wiseguy who gets whacked for failing to get the job done.

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