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Points North: Andy Whitmore, founder of 438 Marketing


Each Friday, Points North gives a senior media figure a platform to air their views on a topical or relevant issue.

This week it’s Andy Whitmore, founder of 438 Marketing. He says the larger agency model is broken – and offers a vision for what the agency of the future needs to be.

The world of marketing, PR and advertising is evolving… and quickly.

Consumer product and service brands are hyper-accountable. They have to be. Advances in digital and social have seen to that, forcing marketers to contemplate how to best reach, connect, and convert a consumer that has a multitude of choices and loves to multi-task.

andyAnd now, finally, the same goes for the B2B service industry. Whether you’re a solicitor, accountant or consultant, long lead times and over-inflated hourly rates are now, in this always-on society, simply unacceptable. Bravo, I say.

The multi-platform landscape has turned the marketing services industry on its head. In a world where multiple device usage is no longer the exception but the rule, the time has come for a new multi-platform approach to digital media measurement, planning, evaluation and optimization. Add to this, the major movement over recent years for agency breakaways and specialist service providers and you have a new set of challenges.

At one time or another, most agencies have claimed to be an extension of a client’s marketing department, something that’s becoming harder to claim as clients increasingly build their own in-house creative teams to cover these increased specialisms, including graphic designers and social media professionals.

You could argue that having an external creative specialist remains a key weapon in maximising brand advantage. In my opinion, the larger agency model is no longer equipped to handle the demands of clients who expect top quality, highly creative, quick and multi-platform output. So what does the future agency look like?

Informed and agile – By servicing a client with a smaller team, the agencies are able to provide tighter teams with genuine expertise and most probably very agile processes that can be implemented easily.

Remain Objective – The agency of the future needs to be able to look further than the brand and I believe that an external agency will always be able to see the bigger picture and ultimately look beyond ‘the wood for the trees’.

Ensure Advisory status – As an external agency, the likelihood is that it will consist of genuine expertise and best practice honed from multi-category experience, allowing for a much more strategic approach as well as the ability to question things much more.

Integrated Approach – By adopting an integrated approach, agencies can form campaigns, specifically aimed at consumption habits of the customer first and foremost before deciding on which media channel to adopt, rather than the reverse approach.

Being Accountable – Most importantly, agencies need to be much more accountable and be able to review and adapt to both the levels of service delivered and the effectiveness of their work

When all is said and done, the old rules still apply, and now more than ever. Regardless of all the changes that have and still are taking place, clients still expect arresting creativity, frequently delivered programs with motivating propositions and clear ROI.

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