2010 is Year of the Agency

After a dark and uncertain 2009 for the marketers and communicators of this world, it seems that 2010 is fast becoming  the year of the agency.


Lots  of reasons (not least that we are very, very busy), but perhaps for the most part it’s the sense of confidence and  renewal that is seeping back into business of late. Yes, it’s been tough, businesses have been kicked when they’re down, squeezed for results and margin but it’s time to reframe, reassess and get back to it.

It’s back to business, but not as we know it. It’s clear that clients have had to reassess their engagement of agencies in the past few years – not just for financial reasons, but in terms of accountability and changing business needs too.   And relationships between client and agency, I think it’s fair to say, are looking a little different these days. (That’s a good thing).

There’s less of the clunky, transactional retainer business. There’s more action, spontaneous activity, experimentation and collaboration. Business demands more of us agencies and right now, we’re in a great position to deliver.

Here’s why:

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto

The world (and therefore consumers and business) is changing pretty quickly – just look at the communications landscape.  We’re shifting to touch-screens, UGC, social conversations and a personalization. It’s hard for businesses to keep up with what that means in terms to how they market. They still have core business issues to address.  But it’s the job of the agencies to know it, follow it, shape it and use it.  And that’s what’s happening right now…

Bring back Pick ‘n’ Mix…

Pick ‘n’ Mix at Woolies was popular for a reason: You could decide, control, help yourself to what you wanted and when.  And you paid only for that.  Same with agencies.  There is an array of marketing and communications brilliance out there to choose from – in the shape of full-service players, niche agencies and some outstanding freelance experts.

Many organisations out there have had marketing resource cut, leaving generalist expertise and less of the specialist and technical stuff.  Agencies are still, in the main, the best way to get flexible, cost-effective expertise.

Talk costs nothing, but is worth a lot

Us agencies talk to each other.  We’re not afraid of competitors, they way that some businesses are.  We social network, ask questions, challenge, share ideas, meet up, introduce people and …yes, collaborate.  That’s why we’ve got our fingers firmly on the pulse of what’s happening, who’s doing what and what’s working.  That’s worth something.

Of course, I’m generalizing.  There are plenty of agencies out there who are not all of the above, who are cumbersome, insular and over-priced. But there is a whole load of brilliant talent out there… go take a look and see.

Check out some of my favourite thinkers and collaborators:






Kate Spiers is CEO and Founder of Wisdom London (NOT one of the rubbish agencies)


2 Responses to “2010 is Year of the Agency”

  1. Hi Kate,

    Thanks for referencing Bright One – it’s great that we’re also not one of the rubbish agencies!

    Bright One was set up to address some of what you’ve pointed out – there’s lots of charities and smaller not-for-profits out there have had budgets and resources cut, meaning that they are more stretched and will be looking for more cost-effective expertise.

    And what better way to help address this than through “action, spontaneous activity, experimentation and collaboration” – all of which Bright One currently has in spades thanks to our fantastic volunteers from across the industry.

    We’ll also be checking out the other agencies you reference (as well as Wisdom London) to make sure we keep learning and make sure we don’t get stuck in Kansas 🙂


    Founder, Bright One

    • Thanks Ben – it’s that sense of responding to a real and current need that I think is so important. Think Bright One is endlessly interesting in terms of what you do, hence the name-check. Any others you think are inspiring?

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