Fortune favours the bold
I want to throw my hat into the ring on the ‘retained agencies versus project-based relationships’ debate. Some say the latter does not foster a deep understanding of a brand’s business or have the capability to deliver creativity that drives commercial success. Having experience working in both, I disagree.
What we are beginning to see are clients who are prepared to look beyond their key agency, to experiment and 'try out' alternative partners who may push their creative work a little harder, or approach their strategic direction with different eyes.
Smaller, independent agencies are not restrained by antiquated cost models. They are often leaner, more flexible – they are able to apply alternative cost models based on value: remunerated by the success of a client's business, be that increased market share, stock or equity within a client's brand. There’s a sense of shared of risk and responsibility, and in turn, so much more to play for.
As a smaller player, we are our own stakeholders, which means reputation and success drives us, but on the flip, failure will really sting us. We need to work with those that share the same values as us, and those that are driven by the same ambition – to deliver commercial success through great creative work, sometimes through risk.
We can learn from tech companies that are always in beta, willing to launch products and services that are imperfect for people to play with, comment and feedback on. This betters the next iteration and helps you shape something fantastic. There are sectors driving and fuelling this change. Look at the likes of uber, Twitter, Amazon and giffgaff who are willing to take risks. Extending your partnerships beyond a sole agency empowers you to try new things. Sometimes you might not get it right, and you’ll take the learnings into the next project. More often, magic happens.
Spirit, fight, entrepreneurialism, collaboration. Independent agencies have that in leaps and bounds. They need fire in their belly to succeed and go up against the big boys. There is the freedom to partner up with like-minded thought-leaders and specialists to work together to accomplish this.
Clients are the guardians of their brand and tone of voice. They want the very best people working for them. More often than not we find that the very best talent is entrepreneurial, craves freedom and independence - sometimes difficult to find in the larger players.
I see it like dating. Not the dating that I used to do, where it took courage to approach someone and court for months, only to realise that the relationship wasn’t right, but the modern dating game, aided by technology.
Admittedly, it’s easier to take creative risks in the digital space and with content online, but do take risks. Be promiscuous. Experiment. Try new partnerships. Be open to new experiences. Date. If it doesn’t work, move on. Disrupt. Learn. It’s ok. You never know what may come of it; perhaps a wonderful, long-term partnership.