What do modern marketers actually want and need from the vendors that support them? The question sounds simple. But the answers are anything but. And the quest to unearth them is creating ripples—across agencies, consultancies and beyond.
Is it possible to zoom out and look for patterns in these ripples? Can these patterns help us see these needs more clearly—no matter where we work? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.
- The recent trend of mashing together venerable old-school agencies into huge, awkwardly-named mashups seems to indicate that the kind of large clients that work with large holding companies want equally large agencies. And less of them (presumably to streamline agency management). And don’t really care what they’re called.
- The growing presence of the big consultancies in the marketing arena shows that clients want to think beyond advertising and communication—re-imagining the way brands connect with customers. And want to ensure that marketing is seen as a key business contributor and not a cost centre.
- The emergence of small marketing-focused consultancies filled with ex-agency folks (ahem) tells us that marketers—accustomed to working with vendors steeped in their discipline—are seeking partners with marketing expertise that occupy a middle ground between agency and consultancy.
- The rise of in-house teams shows that clients want to build new capabilities internally. And, in doing so, gain more control—especially over their data.
- The emergence of new-breed shops like Mighty Hive—who occupy the aforementioned middle ground and focus on helping clients build internal capabilities in the realm of digital media—shows that in-house teams are easier said than done and outside help is still welcome.
- The news that CMOs are now spending a larger proportion of their budgets on technology than on internal staff reminds us, again, that brand and creative are one concern among many for marketing leaders.
- Recent research from WARC showing how confused marketers are by all of the technology on offer clearly shows a need for expert help in selecting, integrating and using it.
- So what do all of these patterns add up to? Put simply: a realistic picture of what modern marketing leaders actually do all day. Comms and campaigns are just part of the picture. They’re navigating change, running and evolving a department, grappling with new technology and working hard to contribute to the overall bottom line. And they still find value in an outside perspective, whatever problem they’re faced with.