A Look Inside Client Heads

What’s going on in the heads of client C suite executives? What are their thoughts and feelings toward their agencies? And how do those thoughts and feelings affect their relationships with their agencies?

Here are some unexpected answers to those questions.

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Why Ambiguity is Your Friend

Conventional wisdom teaches us to avoid ambiguity. Clarity of facts and process are highly valued, particularly by young agency people. Yet we know that ambiguity can be a stimulus to creative thinking.

Here are some thoughts on how ambiguity can work for your agency.

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What to Expect from Your Account Executives

The role of the agency account executive is changing. Yet many agencies have not yet profiled what their AEs of the 21st Century should be like. Or what they should expect from them.

Here are some thoughts on creating that profile and establishing expectations.

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The Nimble Agency

Have we let advertising agencies become dinosaurs? Marketers are looking for effective business solutions, speed and low cost. While many agencies are still enamored by size, stature and heft.

Here are some thoughts on how agencies can close this gap.

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What Business Is Your Agency In?

Agencies succeed on big ideas. Ideas that shape the minds of consumers and their behaviors. But many agencies get most of their compensation from producing stuff. This doesn't make sense.

This whitepaper looks at how to change this.

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The Revolt of the Galley Slaves

The tide has turned. Skilled advertising agency talent is now in short supply. The attraction, retention and growth of talent has become one of the most important issues facing agency leaders.

Here are some thoughts that might be beneficial for your agency.

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Are Strategic Alliances Right for You?

In today’s marketplace agencies need a broader range of skills than ever. Yet the cost of hiring specialized talent is prohibitive. Can strategic alliances cure this dilemma?

Here are some thoughts on strategic alliances that may be helpful.

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Is Mentoring a Lost Art?

Bright young agency talent is hard to find and hard to keep. So helping them grow professionally is crucial. Yet many of the mentors that used to guide young talent are now gone. What can an agency do?

Here are some thoughts on mentoring that may help your agency.

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Has Accounting Led Us Astray?

Have accounting principles beguiled agencies into a business model that positions them as a vendor of stuff? One that makes it difficult for them to be fairly rewarded for outcomes?

Here are some thoughts on that model and ways to change it.

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Have Agencies Become Shoemaker's Children?

Many agency brands have become indistinguishable. A lot of agencies are so busy building client brands that they have neglected their own brand. This has allowed agency commoditization to grow.

Here are some thoughts on reclaiming the high ground of brand differentiation.

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Is Your Agency Ready for Big Data?

Is big data a curse or a blessing? Like it or not, it has descended upon advertising agencies and gurus are predicting dire consequences. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are some things worth thinking about for your agency.

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The Curse of Sterile Advertising

A lot of campaigns don’t work the way they should. They are carefully researched and meet all the contemporary best practice standards. But the consumer sees them and yawns.

Here are some thoughts on what‘s wrong, and some ways to fix it.

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Agencies at the Tower of Babel

New players are changing how consumer brand perceptions are built. And these players all speak different languages. Thus, marketers are confronted with Babel.

Here is how you can rise above the din in architecting the branding solutions of tomorrow.

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Where Will the Marketing Architects Come From?

With the proliferation of ways to reach consumers it has become increasingly difficult for marketers to know how to use all these tools harmoniously. And what the right mix should be. Someone needs to architect a holistic solution.

What is the role agencies can and should play in this?

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How is Your Agency Evolving?

Enormous changes are taking place in the market for agency services. These changes are demanding that agencies evolve their business models. But what does evolving the business model mean?

This whitepaper addresses this challenge and offers some thoughts that may make the transition easier.

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Is Your Agency a Practice or a Business?

An agency that is a practice is a whole lot different from one that is a business. Understanding the differences, and how they impact psychic and financial success, is vital in aligning the interests of the agency and its leaders.

This whitepaper can be of help in creating that alignment.

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The Account Executive of the Future

It’s not easy being an account executive. Today, the once mighty account service function is searching for a meaningful role. And, for many, the road ahead looks bleak. But it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s a formula that can brighten the future for account executives and the agencies they work for.

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Lessons from Humpty Dumpty

Marketing communications has fragmented. Yet holistic solutions to client problems are needed. There are thousands of marketing tools now available. And to meet client needs they must be connected.

Who will put it all together? And what role can or should the agency play?

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The Trouble with Clients

The definition of the word client sounds easy. But it isn’t. The word can have different meanings This causes confusion and costly misunderstandings, particularly among junior agency people.

Here’s how better definition can bring better client understanding.

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The Value of Whole-Brain Thinking

Clients are demanding marketing ROI.

This requires left-brain thinking. Yet agencies are often right-brain biased. Marketing by the numbers can appear counterintuitive and counterproductive.

Here are some thoughts on bringing accountability and creativity together.

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Will Your Agency Become a Revolving Door?

Lots of agency employees are unhappy. Talent churn is coming. The Great Recession has bred hordes of restless staffers. Many of these valuable people are getting ready to seek better jobs.

Here are some thoughts on addressing this problem.

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Should You Have a Business Manager?

Agency business models aren't working the way they used to. The market has shifted. And to remain relevant and competitive, agencies need to shift, too.

This whitepaper addresses how a fresh look at agency business management can make a difference.

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What Agencies Can Learn from Architects

Agencies and architects are alike. Both create concepts and designs and then supervise their implementation. But, there is one big difference. Agencies pay bills for clients. Architects don’t.

Here’s what this means, and what you can do about it.

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Can the Architects’ Secret Help Your Agency?

There is a lot of commonality in what agencies and architects do. Both conceive ways to influence the client’s marketplace and then oversee implementation. But their business models are very different.

Here are some things agencies can learn from architects.

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The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be

Preparing a business plan for an agency used to be easy. Just project ahead what has been. But not any more. Changing consumer behavior has made the past a poor predictor of the future.

Here are some thoughts on ways to address this issue.

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Agency Opportunities in Marketing to the Missing Millions

Lots of consumers who consider client products never make the purchase. Yet they are a gold mine of future prospects. In the past, these folks just disappeared. They were anonymous. But no more.

This whitepaper addresses the opportunities this opens for agencies.

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Should You Welcome RFPs?

Increasingly, marketers are using the RFP process when selecting an agency. And that can be a big hassle. Yet many excellent long-term agency/client relationships are still forged without RFPs.

Here are some thoughts on minimizing RFP frustrations.

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Is Your Agency Too Busy to Change?

To remain relevant, agencies must change their business models. But many agencies are so caught up in client work that there is little time to even think of transformation.

Here are some thoughts on addressing the issue.

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Death by Disintermediation

Disintermediation can kill an agency. Your protection rests in your business model. Does your model make you an agent? A vendor? A consultant? Or a bit of each?

These are not frivolous questions. Here’s how your answers determine the value the agency brings to its clients, and how fairly it gets paid.

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Relevance and Reinvention

There was a time when agencies were clearly relevant to marketer needs. Is that changing? Are agencies losing their relevance? And if so, are there ways that agencies can recapture that relevance?

Here are some thoughts on both agency relevance and reinvention.

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Is Merger a Four-Letter Word?

Agency mergers are coming back into vogue. Yet the odds of a successful merger or acquisition are not very good. Too many lead to unhappy outcomes.

If you are considering a merger, or anticipate one in the future, this can help you improve the odds.

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The Income Statement and The Balance Sheet

Every agency leader wants to manage for both short-term profit and long-term growth. But the goals for each can conflict. So achieving a balance that is aligned with the agency’s vision and values is not easy.

Here are some thoughts on synchronizing an agency’s profitability and growth.

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The Perils of Gotcha Marketing

Are marketers increasingly tricking their customers for immediate economic gain? And damaging their brand reputation in the process? If this is a trend, what does it mean for agencies?

Here are some thoughts on this perplexing issue.

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Dynamic Pricing - What It Is and Why It's Important

Dynamic pricing may dramatically alter the way we buy and sell things. Big data can enable pricing to be tailored to each individual and each situation. Sounds good, but it can be fraught with challenges.

Here are some things worth thinking about for your agency.

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When to Say No

Productive relationships are built on mutual respect. Have agencies acquiesced to clients so much that they have lost that necessary respect? If so, what does this mean?

This whitepaper explores that issue, and suggests some things to do.

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Who's Going to Do the Work?

After the recent years of having more agency people than the industry could support we now face an agency talent shortage. This remarkable turn-around will force big changes in agency staffing strategies.

Here's what you can do today to prepare for this.

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Are Agencies About to Enter a New Golden Age?

As marketers increasingly embrace marketing automation the number of different commercial messages needed will grow exponentially. Like nothing we have ever seen before. For agencies this can be a great blessing or a terrible curse.

Here’s why.

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The Folly of Full-Service

Lots of agencies assert that they provide full-service. But just what does that mean? And is full-service what most marketers are looking for? And do they even believe that any one agency can do it all?

Here are some thoughts on this controversial issue.

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Should You Hire an Anthropologist?

Are agency staffing strategies out of whack? Agencies need educated people to create big ideas. And they need craft trained people to implement those ideas. What should the priorities be?

Here are some thoughts on this challenging question.

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The Lost Art of Mentoring

The competition for bright young agency talent is fierce. Yet many of the mentors that historically helped young talent are now gone. And if talent development is diminished, the future looks bleak.

Here are some thoughts on mentoring that may help your agency.

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What Agencies Can Learn from Hollywood

Increased client use of short-term project assignments has made agency income less predictable. Yet fixed costs stay the same. Hollywood faced this problem and changed its business model.

Here’s how what worked for Hollywood could work for agencies.

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Do Numbers Trump Intuition?

Left-brain marketing is becoming a rallying cry among many marketers. In this environment, what role should intuition play? Are intuitive ideas, especially from agencies, becoming irrelevant?

Here are some thoughts on effectively balancing numbers and intuition.

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Are Medium and Message Inseparable?

Do agencies marginalize themselves if they primarily focus on making great advertising messages? Or is the medium in which it is delivered just as important as the message itself?

Here are some thoughts on message and medium inseparability.

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Brain Surgery on the Cheap

Pricing pressure on agencies has never been greater. Many clients are acting as if agency ideas are a commodity. This isn’t good for anybody - clients, agencies or consumers.

This whitepaper looks at how to change this.

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Is Your Agency Producing Sanitary Advertising?

A lot of advertising doesn’t work the way it should. It is carefully researched and meets all the contemporary best practice standards. But the consumer sees it and yawns.

Here are some thoughts on what‘s wrong, and some ways to fix it.

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Should Agencies Be Called Agencies?

Have the words “advertising agency” lost their meaning? And their relevance? Is it a category name in decline? And if so, what should service firms in this field be called? Both now and into the future.

Here are some thoughts on these vexing questions.

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The Dark Side of Advertising by Invitation

Increasingly, consumers are in charge. They are choosing how, when and where to receive commercial information. They decide the marketers they want to invite in. Yet intrusion still plays an important role.

Here are some thoughts on balancing invitation and intrusion.

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What's With the Millennials?

The future of the agency business is intertwined with the Millennial generation. These young adults are different from previous generations. And this will be a big challenge for many agencies.

This whitepaper looks at what this means, and what you can do about it.

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The Hourglass Shaped Agency

Agencies are under terrible stress today. Can a change in staffing strategy improve things? Could the Hourglass Model, which is successfully used by other kinds of professional firms, be an answer?

Here's a closer look at how it might work for advertising agencies.

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Is Adhocracy Right for Your Agency?

The bureaucratic organizational model thrived during the 20th Century. Lots of agencies embraced it.

But is it the right model for advertising agencies in the 21st Century?

This whitepaper looks at bureaucracy and adhocracy and what that can mean for agencies.

Why Personal Relevance Marketing is Important to You

Before the era of big box marketing, people bought from merchants they knew, and who knew them. This personal understanding and the tailored messaging it enabled made buying easy. Customers liked it. And want it again.

A renaissance in personal relevance marketing is coming. And agencies can lead.

What Happened to the Fun?

Advertising agencies are supposed to be fun. But not so for many the past few years.

What has happened? Why? And, what can be done about it?

This whitepaper focuses on these questions, and more importantly, some answers on how to make it fun again.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Internet - How the New Consumer Foiled the Web Gurus

Consumer behavior on the internet didn’t work out quite as envisioned. The new consumer has shaped the way internet marketing works.

And in the process, created new opportunities for agencies.

Billy & Sue Have Changed - Lessons from a Day in Los Angeles

Advertising Age introduced their online newsletter, Madison+Vine, at a meeting in Los Angeles. It addressed the convergence of Commerce and Content across the entire spectrum of marketing communications and entertainment. Here are some implications for agencies.

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