Why agencies need to operate like consultants

Mon, 09/10/2017 - 09:58

It’s been coming for several years. The nature of consultancies has typically seen them adopt new tech faster and adjust process to respond rapidly, smoothly and seamlessly to client needs. And agencies are having to play catch up.

Agencies need to have an independent, entrepreneurial attitude to their own structure. They should love the process but also love flexibility. Process not working for a particular client? Change it. Adapt, adjust and bend.

They shouldn’t be able to spot a problem and ignore it, even if it technically isn’t part of their brief or scope of work. As a result, they’ll tend to get stuck into conversations and solutions with their clients that fall well outside the remit of “marketing”. But that’s why clients will stick with them through the good times and the difficult. 

Like consultants, agencies should plan before processing the solution. They should focus on driving growth for their clients, not just on the billable hours that clients can bring to the agency.

Why should agencies adopt a consultant mindset in their business?

Well, business knowledge is key. Consultants tend to be specialists in business strategy and enterprise technology. Agencies have to show they understand both a client’s strategy and the enabling role technology can play in achieving those strategic objectives if they want to succeed.

Just being a “big idea house” and acting as a creative tool is not enough. Agencies have to own the high-level business strategy and be the creative solution as well as the analytic data insight team.

Many articles have cropped up in recent years about the death of the traditional agency and I don’t think that’s true. I do, however, believe that many agencies today need to evolve and keep pace with what clients are needing and demanding: true partnerships that add value to their business bottom line.

The consultancy model is rooted in its focus on data, tech and putting the user experience at the centre of its work output. Building relationships, creating experiences, growing and generating revenue… these things, historically, have been the mandate of management teams, not marketing teams.

That is changing and rightly so.

It’s become clear that clients are wanting true business partners who offer cutting-edge tech, data insights and creative marketing services. 

Agencies need to be increasingly selling their people, their experts, not just what those experts can create. Senior staff shouldn’t be behind-closed-doors mystical unicorns that clients never see. Clients need to be able to regularly sit down with directors, the CEO, and department heads, as well as have access to senior expertise. Those same seniors also need to heavily invest in their internal teams.

Agencies need to strive to keep a more consultant mindset, to work for their clients’ business solution, rather than just spitting out a set of deliverables. 

So, yes, agencies need to be like consultants. Rogerwilco is already working hard on that and it’s a fun space to be in.

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