Change your structure as you reinvent the agency business

Progressive Insurance. The Discover Card. Hulu. These are brands that have changed their industries and profited as a result of it. While you may have a different idea on how they have grown, at the 30,000 foot level. to me it seems like they pulled apart the typical processes of their respective categories and redefined themselves. The “how” of their business. How you buy insurance. How you use credit. How you watch a TV. These moves – and the way they were marketed –  created competitive advantage and distinction. This, in turn, developed new business.

Here a few quick thoughts on what how you might do the same in the agency business:

  • Leveraging technology with shared client/agency workspace. Is there some way you could bring the consumer to the party?
  • Building a relevant brand platform you can bring marketers (read: a medium or channel). Does that mean you are no longer an agency, no longer able to offer neutral thinking? Check this out. BrandSource. Looks to be an agency already using this idea. For those of us that may feel this gets away from an agency model, how different is creating a platform than creating an app?
  • Re-structuring your agency to leverage stronger skill sets – and supplement your core through partnerships with other firms like media buying/planning, sales promotion, etc. Or by department, even. As much as I loath to admit, an example of this in our business is Victors & Spoils, which was just purchased by Havas. They reinvented the agency creative department.
  • Hire only people with no less than 10 years of experience. This is an old idea. Wells Rich Greene used to do this back in the day. Other spins: hire only MBAs. Or only people younger than 30. Or…
  • Do absolutely no strategic work whatsoever. Become an execution-only shop. This is more of a “what” you provide vs. a how. A gutsy and crazy model? Sure. But profitable and interesting. Your agency becomes an execution specialist. Farm out the strategy. Become keeper and manager of the details. (Or create a different brand for your strategy offering.)
  •  Do the opposite – supply strategy and thinking only. No execution. Few have succeeded here and some could argue this is a Holy Grail. But it’s just another example of re-thinking the structure of a traditional agency. One could ask – would this be called an agency?

Anywho, the above’s just a starter list. You can supply many more. Clients are more willing than ever before to listen to new models. Are you the agency to bring them one? How might this impact your agency’s new business efforts? How about the other five Ps of your agency?

Happy thinking.

###