Marketing in a cost-conscious world

In the marketing world, Big gets its butt kissed. Big has money, so Big has power–on the client and the agency side. When Big talks, everyone listens. Global brands need global partners and world-wide reach; no one can argue with that. Your $300 million account needs some earnest eye-gazing and sweaty hand-holding. And for that amount of cash, everyone wants in. It’s a complicated, deal-making world. But what if your brand doesn’t live in that world? Maybe you’re a start-up, mid-sized or challenger brand. You’ve got no plans for offices in London, Sydney and Mumbai. You don’t need the added layers and expense, the fancy dinners and box seat perks. And your $3 million budget would scarcely get you a returned phone call from Big Agency. How, then, do you get access to innovative thinking and people who can help move your brand and business forward? Focus your search on the level of talent, not the size of the firm. Small agencies house some of the sharpest minds in marketing today and represent a great value in a cost-conscious world. What’s small? That depends. Small could be a national level shop of 50 people or it could be the ex-president of one of the Bigs who just started a new two-person firm. Here are some things to consider as you start your search: Look at your immediate and long term goals.  You’re looking for partners you can grow with–not just ones who can get those first few projects off your desk, right? An agency relationship should be treated with the same due diligence you’d apply to bringing on a new...

Beyond the Big Idea: What Marketers need from their Ad Agencies.

10 red balloons have been hidden around the U.S. and you have to find them.  How long would it take you? Could you do it in 4 weeks , 6 months, a year?  MIT Media Lab‘s Dr. Riley Crane took that challenge, which last month was presented by the Pentagon’s DARPA, and with his team, used social media to accomplish the task in just 8 hours and 52 minutes! DARPA’s intent for the balloon study was to determine if “in the 40 years since the creation of the internet it could actually be used to solve real world problems.“ So what does this have to do with advertising?  Arguably, selling more Coke is not a pressing world problem for anyone but Coca Cola, Inc. But there’s an interesting parallel between the search for those 10 balloons and the advertising industry. Ad agencies are facing real challenges to their value proposition and the outcome of the DARPA experiment is indicative of how social networks have changed the advertising industry forever.  DARPA’s experiment (and MIT’s approach) can offer clues about how agencies can make this industry shift work for them—rather than feeling threatened as the ground moves below their feet.  And it’s a cautionary tale for clients as well. The new big idea Social networks (and by extension, crowdsourcing) have helped bring about the democratization of the big idea, which is probably one of the biggest shifts to our industry in the last 50 years.  Marketers now know their agencies aren’t the sole generators of solutions.  This shift is changing how clients compensate their agencies—or at least the value placed on previously highly-valued goods—like...