Industry News

Agency of the Future

Business Model Disruption.
A Case for Innovation 

Where we are. 

“ I recently sat through a presentation and it made me realize that the greatest strength of Nigerian agencies will continue to be their understanding of this market and [evolving] consumer cultures…if only they can innovate with this knowledge or align with business strategy.
Truly, culture eats strategy for breakfast…”– Mobolaji Caxton-Martins, marketing communications practitioner 

Our understanding of the Nigerian consumer market and the diverse cultures of audience groups as they apply to the various industry-sectors is a reflection of how brands and advertising agencies currently study people, their behaviors and attitudes within social contexts, and spheres of influence. 

There is, however, the need for a progression of the methodologies being used to understudy people, their patterns of movement, purchase habits, responses to advertising within situational backgrounds, and level of resonance to brand communications. Indeed, the lenses through we interrogate brands and their target customers must go beyond circular frames of reference that only display linear progressions for decoding today’s digital consumer. 

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In order to expertly decode the Nigerian consumer and expand our planning dissections, the ad agency business model urgently requires a redesign, and constant upgrades not unlike the iPhone and Apple’s regular iOS updates. If we were to reset the entire business model like an operating software system, it would allow us to expertly navigate the flux being experienced across certain industries, map the future of consumerism in Nigeria, and enable us focus on developing sustainable solutions for brands. 

Creating order within chaos. 

Let’s map emerging trends as they occur against cultural drivers and the gaps that exist for brands to tap into before they are phased out. It is important that we navigate a trend wave to its original source so that we can plot a pattern of what would likely come next. 

Some brands ride popular wave trends while others set off their own trends and exploit it for commercial purposes. 

Let’s take a relook. 

Most advertising agencies run this kind of operating structure: 

Issues: Resources and materials developed across teams are not optimized for efficiency, thereby encouraging a system of redundancy and replication as teams share the same ideas, tools and models for ongoing work with existing clients, pitching new accounts, and working on new briefs, projects and campaigns. There is a blow-back of the same ideas across teams, and often times little or no external ‘influences’ to spark up the creative juice. 

If you interrogate creative works across ad agencies working on brands targeted at the same customersegment within a 24-mont period, you’ll find some semblance of ideas, propositions and campaign ads developed for different clients. Good points of references are electronic and billboard ads developed for brands in the telecoms, alcoholic drinks and diary milk segments. 

Business team structure. 

The agency team structure is not optimized for the digital age and limits the potential for developing innovative marketing solutions for clients that go beyond traditional advertising.  These types of structures are huge costcenters as existing systems and processes are duplicated across accounts and business teams within an agency. 

Issues: Most ad agencies experience little incremental growth curves no matter the volume of new businesses won. The larger share of his growth is derived mostly from existing clients sending in briefs for new products, event launches, ad campaigns and the like. 

The reasons one can adduce to this is that the same tired processes, team personnel, ideation sessions and creative solutions are packaged when prospecting to new clients. And, in the event that new businesses are won, the same model is applied for checking the profitability of these businesses, recruiting fresh talents to work on the accounts, and in developing new campaign ads. 

In retrospect, most Nigerian agencies have the capacity to grow in geometric proportions in comparison to other advertising firms in other parts of the world as the country is experiencing a gigantic wave of online retail consumption, digitalized content explosion, and advanced level of creativity across platforms due to technological disruption and lowcost access. 

Rethink Everything. 

Rather than setting up business teams focused on simply growing accounts (brands, businesses), we should have a specialist crack team of professionals working in business units targeted at growing specific industries and transforming existing paradigms of how businesses are being conducted. 

Therefore, the set-up up business teams should be majorly defined by new trend waves and cultural drivers affecting specific sectors that the agency is invested in or seeks to pursue new business. 

Reset: Installing Innovation. 

The proposed new agency structure. 

Culled from The CEO Agency Playbook for Strategic Innovation by Franklin Ozekhome 

Franklin Ozekhome is a trends consultant,
and the founder of TINK Africa.

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