Guest Columnist

Time For Ad Agencies T o Be Born Again

Part 1
Changing roles inside the Agency.
Creative Leadership for Agencies and Brands | By Colins Morris |
The Creative Pitch Doctor for Africa | 
Has your Agency seen the Light?
Realise 2 Truths:
1 – To survive and thrive, It’s not just about creating a compelling message anymore… it’s about creating viral movements designed to motivate consumers into becoming, and staying brand advocates. Be aware, the “Experience economy” will soon be with us.
2 – IF YOUR Agency cannot change or define a new adaptive role for itself, built around dialogue, someone else will do it for you – almost certainly, the Consumer.
So, as a way forward, here across 3 articles are a total of 15 pointers, and 18 tips to what the New robust and relevant role for an Agency can be.
Wherever they may be in todays wired and always on World
The Born Again Agency…
In a nutshell:
It is as an enabler; a catalyst; a partner that collaborates directly with consumer communities to provide open creative platforms through which influencer /bloggers can spread authentic, good or even sometimes not so good, brand stories.
It requires, a whole new level of trust between Client and Agency. And an acceptance of a new member to the fold: the Empowered Consumer.
As well as an ongoing commitment to Change habits, some of which have survived unchallenged for over 70 years….
It means the END of:
Persuasion & Awareness only… It‘s the START of: Participation & Accountability
Why?
In the Age of Mass, markets were persuaded collectively, as if talking to one person spoke to all.
Awareness was a dipstick hunch based after the event, loosely on sales. Like two Giant Megaphones, TV and Radio worked as “Weapons of Mass Instruction.” One voice shouting at immobile yet interested audiences, sitting in their living rooms each night.
But then came the net….
Masses are now thousands of niches, (segments) each with a voice, (via online channels) and less and less time for passively absorbing TV.
New digital tools mean we can now take part in the conversation around the communication. When we choose to, not when a station says so. Consider how, in 10 years YouTube has become the biggest TV station in the World, without producing a single programme.
With “live” as it happens track click – monitoring, we now know what the consumer is looking at online, if it works, and can change it if it doesn’t. We are fast becoming better Watchers, Learners, and Listeners.
It means the END of:
Paid by hours spent…
It ‘s the START of: Paid by value brought. 
Why? 
I like what Jay Baer said on Convrse digital: “Don’t charge to hammer nails; charge because you know where to hammer.”
So, should cost be based on time it takes to think it, or the value the thought itself creates?
The innovative idea that drives 20% increase in sales is as valuable to the client if crystalized in five minutes ….or five days.
Why so? Because that 5 minutes is the direct result of knowhow, of 10 or 12 years critical thinking.
Hourly deliverables deal with, and often reproduce the known, and thus working with one eye on the clock tends NOT to produce surprises.
Retainers however, drive relationships of trust that reveal the unknown and grow new opportunities client didn’t see or realize was there.
Tip 1: use your accountant, (or better an actuary) to quantify what a new idea can be worth in a market and use the numbers in the selling to benchmark the response. I promise you, your bill based on hitting future values will be taken seriously.
It’s the END of:
Agency REACTIVITY…
It ‘s the START of: Agency PROACTIVITY
Why?
Nothing good ever comes from waiting to be told what to do.
Back-foot thinking never catches up. Proactivity is about knowing how to lead the dialogue. Delivering artwork on time is now a given. Delivering surprising un- briefed solutions, twice a month, WILL be remembered come review time.
Tip 2: Have a separate shadow team (of Strat-media-creative) sit down together 1 day a week to trail the trends before thinking of brand opp’s beyond the briefs.
Tip 3: Keep a Brand book of all the unasked for Proactive Ideas – it could also keep the business come review time!
It’s the END of:
Emphasis on the Verbal…
It‘s the START of: Emphasis on the Visual…
Why?
1 picture of course, is worth 1000 words. Bullshit. It’s worth thousands more. Otherwise, why else would we now upload around 5 million pictures daily?
From birth we see before we read. Visual comprehension is up to 30 times faster than words. Images are also faster to remember. Up to 50 times.
Some guide volumes on picture curation: Pinterest -20 million users. Tumblr -77 million accounts, Instagram -100 million users. All in less than 5 years! Look at Lurzer’s Archive, a magazine full of persuasive brand visuals that communicate, with hardly so much as a caption. Web sites increasingly have more white space than words.
Even the old CV is being dusted down, with info ”graphics” that communicate.
Goodbye to the professional photographer. We are all phone-ographers and selfie publishers now.
As humans, intuitively we all know first impressions are based on our image. Our words, used to reinforce are a very distant second.
Tip 4: Let’s Challenge our creative briefing format – let’s begin demanding a purely visual solution. It’s more likely to cut today’s clutter and be remembered.
It’s the END of:
Client & Agency duopoly as brand champions… It’s the START of: Consumer as Brand Champion too!
Why?
EMBRACING a new way of working in the Social media age requires, for the first time, a triumvirate relationship with the consumer. Let’s Recognise the power conferred on him or her, by the touchpoints of technology to be a co-creator of messages, alongside the client and Agency.
Consulted early enough, to endorse the relevance and authenticity of an approach and then run with it. Think of it as ’live” on going, organic R & D.
And as we all know, when the consumer says YES, rarely does the client say NO.
A TURNING POINT:
“Successful Consumer buy-in, followed by advocacy, will only come through collaboration; without it, failure for the UNBORN Agencies and Brands (via loss of relevance) is likely to follow.”

Colin g Morris, aka:
The Creative Pitch Doctor-for Africa
morrcolin@gmail.com.

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