79% of marketers say the skills for their job have completely changed over the last decade. I'd go further to say that the skills shift has been even more dramatic over the last 12 months.
Digital marketing agencies historically sell time & services to fit in or drive marketing operations. Historically, for agencies to thrive, we had to retain teams of experienced, accredited experts leading digital marketing best practices with teams of innovative people. The best agencies combine this with a deep understanding of their client's business objectives and strategies. All of these enable the delivery of campaigns to drive results directly tied to the top-tier business objectives.
But in 2023, I don't know any agency leaders or colleagues who are able to support a payroll with such a wide set of skills, a team of experienced humans geared to support clients in the same way. The old agency model has become unsustainable.
If you haven't heard, it is agency land is TOUGH. It has been for some time. I have been on the agency side for 20+ years, which has always had its challenges. But I have enjoyed the 'rough and tumble' and treated those challenges, in the main, as a learning opportunity. Agency land should be fun and incredibly satisfying: delivering campaigns that make an enormous difference to your client's business. This has always given me a genuine purpose.
However, as an agency leader, I have watched it become exponentially harder to operate and ridiculously expensive over the last few years. The traditional time-sold model commercial structure that agencies operate within means that the pressure is on agencies; therefore, their employees see agencies justify their time cost to clients, regardless of the results delivered. The bottom line of agency business has taken a huge hammering.
Back to the Marketing Week article referenced at the beginning of this post: 45% of marketers feel that companies are sacrificing core values and are consequently taking a short-term approach to try to reach their targets, and being the agency partner, we are usually the first to feel this behaviour. But this is exactly where I also feel huge sympathy for our clients and in-house marketers.
There has been a significant rise in in-housing in a post-Covid world. There are tools and platforms readily available to everyone, which, on the face of it, should enable self-service activity. AI continues to evolve rapidly and should make many tasks easier. The commoditisation of digital marketing creative and technical services means working with freelance/subject matter specialists should be more readily available. Add to this, brand budgets are constantly being squeezed, and the expectation is marketers must do much more with less and have to cherry pick how to spend their budgets, especially with any form of out-sourcing. It is a lose-lose for agencies and brands alike.
The question I ask of all of us. Who can manage all of it? Agencies have historically provided specialist skills or have specialist divisions working with clients across certain sectors or channels set.
In an age where consumers are now unforgiving in their expectation of the most personalised, slick experience with every single online brand. Where do marketers start?
How can marketers make good decisions? What content? What channel? Optimised and promoted how in these days of such an onslaught of tech?
According to the Marketing Week article, CMOs are more likely to succeed if they offer varied experiences, perspectives, and merits, say 80% of marketers. This is historically where agencies have partnered with CMOs by offering the various skill sets required to support CMOs and their teams to plan how to achieve business objectives.
What we have seen so far in 2023. Lots of brands:
lose market share because their content marketing is not keeping up with the speed of change
slower to adapt or know how to deliver the correct type of content, especially with the emerging face of AI
Require websites to be ever more technically sound
Brands need to transform their marketing operation rapidly. CMOs need to trust a marketing operation with performance tracked through accurate data management and attribution, clearly defined responsibilities, and SLAs – whether in-house OR outsourced. Brands more than ever need:
Growth. Sales, leads but execute activities to drive revenue
Marketing strategy and clearly defined objectives
Access to and ownership of accurate data delivering clear insight
Clear metrics tracking and measuring success, opportunity and opportunity loss and ways to attribute value of integrated content
Trusted partners to assist with strategic thought, implementation, and optimisation to show how and where to drive results efficiently
There are answers. Data combined with strong workflow and process is key.
At Yard have spent large swathes of 2023 revisiting our workflows, processes, and systems. We have continued to play with AI to support our team's work and output – but that was not the black-and-white answer.
Data really is at the heart of operations. Moreover, being able to collate and translate this ever-growing mass of information and understand how to make decisions on it.
A data-led discovery process can provide insights for marketing decisions. We have honed our working framework, entirely driven by data, which ties activity together, giving a holistic view.
This approach has been working well; the visualisation itself really helps us and our clients understand how it all sits together, relative to each other and where strengths and weaknesses lie.
The data ensures we can specify each component of the framework for each client, and all the data behind clearly pinpoints & delivers a prioritised set of to-dos and all track performance with the right metrics.
How do you tackle your marketing operation?
Get in touch, and we would love to talk you through our operation framework and how it may support your brand marketing operation.