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Agencies Define Independent Future at Agency 2030

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Worldwide Partners global summit reveals the road ahead for indie shops

Agencies Define Independent Future at Agency 2030

If you wanted a window on the future of independent agencies, you had only to be a fly on the wall at the Worldwide Partners Agency 2030 summit in Las Vegas. More than 100 executives from 53 agencies representing 15 countries met with advertising luminaries to define a powerful future for independents as stewards of change, clarity, creativity, and impact for clients, and for Worldwide Partners as a primary vehicle for the collaboration at speed required. 

Because Worldwide Partners (WPI) unites independent agencies from around the world with diverse capabilities and specialties, its global summits provide a comprehensive snapshot of the state of the business. 

Agency 2030 breaks the mold

Far from one, there are many models for the agency of the future. The one thing they have in common is they break the traditional mold. 

“Every agency must run two models now – one focused on today, and one on tomorrow,” said industry consultant Rishad Tobaccowala. “Put some of your most talented people on innovation and give the agency focused on tomorrow the right to destroy the agency of today.”

Rishad Tobaccowala, Author, Change Management Expert

Agencies need to base the tomorrow model on their greatest strengths. “We can’t shore up a weakness anymore,” said Kristin Cavallo, CEO of The Martin Agency. “We have to pick our lane, create a brand, and promote our point of view consistently. We need a clear identity rooted in what we are best at delivering for clients.”

Disruption is the agency opportunity

As technology alters commerce and people expect more individual treatment from product and service providers, clients encounter a more fiercely complicated job around the world. This pressure is putting agencies back in the strategy seat and will continue to make them priority advisors. For example, agencies can be the great explainers of cryptocurrency, enabling clients to increase their businesses exponentially. 

“Clients will be exposed to an insane amount of nonsense around crypto,” said technology consultant Shelly Palmer. “Agencies can be reality filters. Hire engineers, bring in the best partners, block the charlatans, and show clients how they can profit in the new world.”

Shelly Palmer, CEO, The Palmer Group

Diversity is beyond skin deep

Agencies need to get even more creative to find, develop and keep the best talent. Many are capitalizing on their agency’s sharpened focus to attract people with specific talents from outside advertising. Others are also hiring for cultural fit – the kinds of people who energize and expand the agency – and training extensively to keep raising skill levels. Both ways, clients get more cohesive teams that produce smarter faster with greater impact. 

“If you care about your agency, you must appoint a diverse leadership team,” said Cavallo. “You have 100% control of leadership, and if you have women and people of color on your executive committee, you have higher sales, margin, employee engagement and morale.”

Kristen Cavallo, CEO, The Martin Agency

“Agencies need to empower diverse voices, not just hire diverse faces,” said Tobaccowala. “When the right combination of people are all empowered to call out the turd on the table, then diversity has real impact.” 

Collaboration is the new currency

And agencies will rely increasingly on partnering. They’re finding creative ways to unite for clients. The pandemic kicked collaboration into high gear, and it’s becoming the new standard. Likewise, the summit demonstrated agencies’ hunger for sharing ideas, opportunities, and problems. One owner said she got more than 30 ideas to apply in her agency from the opening introductory session alone.  

“Collaboration is the new currency for clients as well as agencies,” said WPI CEO John Harris. “Clients can’t afford one-size-fits-all conglomerates, and they don’t have the bandwidth to unify lots of specialists. Yet they need the world-class delivery and local relevance that specialists bring. They will increasingly rely on agency collaboration to solve their most important problems.”

Rebalance the power

That collaboration provides tremendous value which needs to be rewarded fairly. While some clients now disqualify agencies with high employee turnover, they contribute to the conditions for 30% industrywide attrition by constantly demanding more work cheaper and faster. 

Agencies are coming to realize they must stand up for their worth, so they can continue to deliver the great results clients depend on. And the summit provided a rallying point and cry for this spirit.

“Service industry does not mean servile industry,” said Tobaccowala. “We have to fight for our people and fire clients that mistreat them. The world’s most talented people want to work for companies that support them as human beings. If we don’t believe in ourselves, why will anyone else believe in us?” 

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Worldwide Partners, Thu, 05 May 2022 08:19:02 GMT