Monday, May 01, 2006

The Two Person Agency

What would you do if you could have a marketing agency with only two individuals? Just assume for a moment that there are only two positions to be filled, that you have only the right to get two talented people together to serve the marketing need of a client, and to build longer term value within the marketing agency? What would you do? What kind of people and talent would you hire?

I am posing this question to understand better the shifting value contribution within the different functions of an agency, as well as better define the optimal structure of a high value marketing team. After analyzing and reviewing the different marketing service functions like Creative, Account Services, Analytics, Technology, Research, Strategic Planning, and others, I have at least a preliminary answer, at least until I hear some better recommendations.

First I would hire a talented creative who is innovative and thinks outside the box, someone who can design and concept big creative relevant platforms that create exciting customer experiences. This creative would be not an expert for a particular channel but a creative who understands the interplay of different channels and the need of matching particular channel strengths with the particular marketing challenge.

The second individual would be a marketing data and insight geek, someone who loves numbers, someone who understand how to look at business situation with a data driven approach without getting lost in academic discourse of the most appealing algorithm or the most complex way of explaining analytical methodologies. This person needs the expertise to unlock the value of data and guide the transformation from raw data to relevant insights and meaningful action.
Why this particular combination? I am driven by the following reasons:
  • If you are able to combine the creative power of relevant communication platforms with the grounded data and insight driven methodology, then most marketing programs will not have only an appealing factor for the agency internal discourse - think Cannes - but it has the potential to really change and improve client businesses, too.
  • Even in today’s multifunctional set-up and structure of marketing agencies the most value is currently created by the successful combination by representative of these two team functions, the creative and the data and insight driven geek
  • Every successful marketing program at its core combines an understanding of the marketing situation, a relevant consumer insight, and an exciting creative big idea. If you can choose only two individuals, then these two can generate these three essential elements, no other combination of talent can make it happen.

What are the implications of this hypothetical question and mind game? Analyze and understand if your marketing team or agency partner has the right focus on talent and investment combination to really nurture these two very different talent and tool pool. If not, you are in trouble.


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