The Model and the Magic

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I was asked to sit on a 4A’s panel discussing agency models recently. Preparing for the panel required me to take a pause from our fast-paced business and look back at where we came from. Our agency model, now 82 years in the making, has changed and morphed into the full-service integrated shop that we are today. What has driven these changes is the need to get closer to answering “why.” Why do consumers make the decisions they do? Why do they choose one store over the other? Why do they choose one brand over another? Why are they loyal one minute and fickle the next? Why would they tattoo one logo on their bodies over another?

Answering these questions has driven a model that gets closer to the consumer and therefore the data. Adding research and strategic planning brought in the results of tactics within campaigns which influences future decisions. But the decision and optimization loops were too slow and had too many variables which clouded the data. Adding digital natives that were fluent in mobile, .com as well as social platforms helped make better informed marketing decisions pre and post strategy. In order to expand our knowledge of the consumer and their journeys, we added analysts and data scientists as well as programmatic and trade desk. This has enabled the tracking and collection of much better data up and downstream.

With cleaner and fresher data at hand the need for relevant content has driven us to bring in digital development and production to continually create and source content for the appropriate platforms that our client’s consumers interact with. Bringing on Salesforce marketing cloud has helped automate and make efficient the content on the appropriate platforms.  Answering our client’s challenges has allowed us to grow with our clients while adding to our capabilities. The agency has evolved and grown on average 10%+/ year for the last 25 years. We have done it because of what we have always asked ourselves these questions. All these disciplines, the SME’s [subject matter experts] working together around the table on our clients’ most vexing marketing challenges. Has gotten us closer to answering “why.”

As our client’s agents we need to look at our client’s business as if it were our own. Take seriously the responsibility they entrust in us to use their budget smartly and efficiently. Given that responsibility we are always looking to the market to find out what’s next. What is the next platform or medium we should explore? Where are consumers and how do they want our clients to communicate with them? What’s the competition doing and how do we keep our clients relevant and unique in the market? We are hired counselors engaged to work on and elevate their brands in a crowded and complicated landscape.

While the model has certainly evolved the tenants of our business have not. We are agents for our clients tasked with telling their consumers what is true relevant and unique about their services or products. Oh, and something else that hasn’t changed, we must tell the brand’s story in a compelling, engaging and entertaining way. That’s where the magic comes in, the creativity, the innovation and the unexpected. Our model is always evolving to respond and take advantage of a changing landscape. Our principles have remained steady, making sure that we have the right model, the creativity and the magic answer our client’s challenges.

Jim Nash

CEO at Marcus Thomas, LLC

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