This is the “transcript” of what I wanted to say at a recent NYCRAMA luncheon. Thanks to my fellow panelists – Bob, Mark, Dean, Ashley, Michael and Dan – for your insights, which made this retroactive transcript stronger.


What are the biggest challenges facing agencies today and in the near future?

Agencies are beginning to realize that they can’t service both established and regulated businesses and entrepreneurs and innovators using the same people, processes and programs. They used to be able to. But they can’t anymore.

This creates a big challenge. While there is still good money to be made in the mountains of relatively mundane marketing regulated businesses require, the internal systems built to mine that demand tend to make agencies too heavy and bureaucratic to effectively and profitably service entrepreneurs and innovators.

Establishment dollars are delicious. But everyone knows it is with entrepreneurs and innovators that the future lies.

How has the advertising and marketing world changed in recent years and what do you see in the future?

Advertising has been changing for a long time. As Tim Williams points out, agency margins have been on the decline for a very long time. Like 40 years. And it is only going to get worse.

Clients can do an awful lot – production, media, social, events and promotions – without agencies now, and are going to be able to do even more over time.

How have you innovated and reinvented yourself as an agency in the past couple of years to adapt to the changing landscape?

I had the chance to start a business from scratch a little over a year ago and I took it, very much wanting to put to the test ideas I’d had in my head for a decade.

At its core, POSTMKTG is about seeing things fresh. It’s about creating strategies and solutions that are sensitive to the way people now find out about products and services, how they qualify those products and services and how they make purchase decisions. And it’s about being completely agnostic regarding the tactics used to deliver those solutions. Traditional media, non-traditional media or something else entirely.

“Real time” Content Marketing is the newest buzz-phrase. All of a sudden it’s essential for brands to be reacting quickly to cultural events and trends, and injecting themselves into the online conversations taking place around them. How have you changed to meet these needs? What do clients need to do to capitalize on these opportunities?

While I sometimes think social media represents an even bigger revolution than the most hyperbolic reporters suggest, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is little to no role for an agency in managing a client’s “real time” social media on their behalf. So POSTMKTG focuses on educating clients and building tools that allow clients to engage socially themselves. However “not real time” content marketing – blogs, videos, whitepapers, etc. – is a different story. There is still a big role for agencies there.

Given the changing landscape, what skills and traits are critical for advertising and marketing agencies to be successful in the future?

Good research, writing and presentation skills. Big picture view. Big ideas. Digital sophistication. Production agnosticism, by which I mean not being pulled by an imperative to suggest specific production solutions because the agency happens to sell them.

How are your clients holding you more accountable for business results?

My clients are more likely to hold me accountable for process results. Can I really help build a platform and provide the rules that will allow them to manage their marketing interface directly? Can I supply the big ideas that trigger engagement? Am I able to make people – my clients – feel better about themselves over time?

In your opinion, how will agency-client relationships change in the future?

More intimate. Less a black box.

How can clients be better partners and do a better job leveraging your skills and creativity?

It’s not the client’s job to make my job easier or more fun, it’s my job to help my clients do their jobs better. My job is to help my clients feel smarter and more in control. If I can do that, then I believe my clients will always remain receptive to whatever additional skills and creativity POSTMKTG might offer.

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