Want To Put Agencies Out of Business? Make Better Products.ClickZ had a party on Wednesday night to celebrate 10 years of innovation and excellence in online marketing and advertising.
They invited author and academic Douglas Rushkoff to speak.
Rushkoff exhorted marketers to convince their clients to come up with compelling products. “Teach them how to get back into the business they are in,” he said. “Then you don’t have to make up a story about them.”
I’m attracted to this kind of lofty message. Yet, I can’t help but chuckle. Most agency pros are unable to help their clients grasp the intricacies of marketing communications. Trying to help them reinvent their product or service offerings seems, at least on the surface, an esoteric idea that could only be cooked up in a school.
Not really. While it’s true that most agency pros couldn’t wrap their minds around that concept if a hundred diamond-encrusted Addys were at stake, those of us who have done it know how simple it actually is. Sure, you have to manage a lot of moving parts and you have to live in a lot of different worlds (design, engineering, finance, manufacturing, quality control, marketing, advertising, PR, sales) but it can be done, and done well – at least by certain types of people. Sadly, the business world’s tendency to compartimentalize skills into finite job descriptions (yes, even in ad agency org charts) makes it nigh impossible for anyone with the proper skills to a) market themselves properly, b) capitalize on their talents, and perhaps worst of all c) help their firm and their clients capitalize on those talents.
A firm capable of grasping David’s concept, and putting in place a team of people who know how to do this could make some serious waves over the next few decades – and beyond. Easier said than done? Nope. With a little bit of digging, you could be ready to roll inside of six months at the most.
I tried to explain this to an upper-level honcho at a local creative firm several years ago, and his answer to me was: “We are not – and will never be – in the business of helping our clients develop better products.”
That was probably the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard come out of a creative professional’s mouth – especially since they were in a position to do something really special. But no. The potential I see wasted every day to the lure of the media-buying profit model is astounding. It really is.
You would think that the most creative people in the world would be a bit more imaginative when it comes to monetizing their talents – and maybe a bit more ambitious when it comes to applying their creativity to problems organizations are so desperate to find smart solutions for.
In the end, the product comes first: The message, the creative, the channel and the choice of media don’t mean jack diddles if your product isn’t all that great to begin with.
Paint me blue.
Have a great Friday, everyone.