A new study by the CMO Council was released recently, and it confirmed Forrester’s findings in March on The Future of Agency Relationships. If you allow me to summarize both, the world is changing and marketers had better change with it (and quickly). These studies join other prognostications from consultants like Clive Maclean who said earlier in the year that agencies need to account for fundamental shifts in how marketers do business). In my estimation, there’s more than just consultant hyperbole here; maybe we should start taking steps to change.
I believe there are three cornerstones to Marketing 2.0: 1) CRM/data, 2) web analytics and 3) digital/social marketing skills including merging online and offline data. Who has these skills? These capabilities are provided to clients in a hodge-podge of services in what Forrester calls a “web of confusion.” As marketing services providers, ad agencies, interactive agencies, technology providers and direct marketing firms all start looking alike, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for clients to tell us apart. So much so, the CMO study states, that one solution for marketers is to start bringing these skills in-house, either by training existing staff or hiring new ones.
To maintain long-term client relationships, we’ve always known that we have to expertly manage either the content or the data. And now it looks like we have to do both. If your marketing firm doesn’t have the chops to compete in this new age, what are you to do? Here are 4 ideas on short-term solutions that can help your company now:
- Build skills in your firm with which you have a competitive advantage. Look for those areas where your company has a strategic advantage and leverage it. For example, if one of your key competitive differentiators is analytics, it’s a natural extension to web analytics.
- Develop partnerships when there’s mutual benefit to both parties. If you’re a creative shop or even an interactive agency, you might need to work with someone who knows offline data such as data warehouses, data hygiene, etc. There are large barriers to entry if you want to move a traditional agency in this direction
- Begin experimenting with social media in your own lead generation efforts. If you try selling new digital solutions to your existing clients, they’ll see right through it if you haven’t been doing social media marketing yourself. In this case, we truly have to practice what we preach.
- Get outside help. With this much change occurring, it might be wise to hire some outside consulting help to map out your position in the new digital age of marketing. You can start by assessing your capabilities and developing a roadmap for what skills you’ll need in the future.
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