I’m sure you’ve heard the children playing football metaphor, the one about how everyone just chases the same ball
It’s usually used by creative folks to show clients the need for distinctive creative strategy, my media agencies to show the need for thinking harder about media channels where no one else is playing…..well you get the picture.
The thing is, it’s happening more and more to agencies themselves. Creative agencies finding it hard to sell ads, so moving into the world of content, digital strategy and even media planning, while the media folks continue to move into content, pretending that data is the only answer to everything, tech and all sorts of special services, from creative designed for programmatic to the kind of partnership planning previously owned by the PR folks. Meanwhile PR folks are coming up behind with all of the above, with the advantage of knowing about influence.
And digital agencies continue to pretend that digital media is still a ‘thing’.
And the pace will only increase.
Now, you’ll be used to agencies squabbling over territory, with the familiar land grabs over core communications strategy, earned digital and the like. In the past, that was because most people in agencies never learned how to play nice. Creative agencies are possibly the biggest culprits, but I’ve worked with some very aggressive media agencies too.
But now, the battle isn’t about egos or landgrabs, it’s going to be about survival. Clients can’t be bothered to manage lots of agencies who don’t get on or try and do the same thing, it’s all a bit too complex these days and what we all do was only ever 10% of clients’ world in any case.
So we’ll winners from the organisations who can deliver great, neutral advice and ideas, nimble enough to be expert in a number of, what to be used to be known a disciplines. Planning, media and creative specialists, the consultancy folks if you like, who can’t think across the whole marketing piece will be seen like a football manager who is only any good at managing the midfielders.
There will be a small but robust group of specialists in implementation, probably the stuff that can’t be done by robots…great video production and imagery for example.
Hopefully researchers who can work across data science and ethnography, surely despite the need for arse saving in clients companies and agencies alike, we’ll see the death rattle of artificial qual like focus groups…or claimed quant survey only analysed on a short term basis (not to mention social sentiment being seen as anything but a picture of how people want to be seen, rather than what they do), I bet there’s some next generation insight gatherers who could make a lot of money.
This should be great news if you want to be stimulated, challenged and be prepared to be flexible, if you’re good or want to be. If you prepared to build value rather than follow the latest trends.
Because the thing about chasing the ball is that eventually it’s no fun and very few actually get to kick it, let alone score.