The Transitioning Role of Agencies – Why You Need to Focus on Video Marketing

Take it from one agency to another: It’s time for agencies to change. They have to. Think about the perfect storm we’ve cultivated. In the last 20 years, we’ve had advances in technology and data that’s given brands massive new opportunities to reach, attract, engage, and nurture captive audiences in more ways than ever before. At the same time, these same opportunities have us tripping over ourselves trying to catch lightning in a bottle, chasing how to capitalize on trendy platforms instead of staying focused on how best to motivate the public and evangelize new customers.

This shouldn’t be news to you. Whether you’re a small boutique or a global multinational agency, you’ve seen the writing on the wall for years now. But in this current period of transition, it’s difficult to confidently predict the role we’ll be playing as agencies in 10, five, or even just two years from now. One thing we at Lemonlight know for sure: video, in all of its evolving formats, is here to stay and there’s plenty of data to prove it. Here’s our take on why, no matter how your agency is changing, you need to make video marketing a part of it.

How we got here – and why we need to change.

If you don’t know the name James Walter Thompson, you aren’t alone – we recently read about him in the book Managing Organizations in the Creative Economy by David Schreiber and Paul Saintilan. In the book, the authors share how Thompson created the concept of the “full service agency” in 1878 by being one of the first advertising agencies to offer clients multiple services, like copywriting, layouts, trademark development, and market research, instead of simply offering space for pre-made ads.

This game-changing business model has been used by agencies ever since, and is still in use over a century later. However, according to a recent report published by Pwc’s Strategy&, after decades of acquiring smaller, more specialized boutiques, the prominence of the full-service model has led to an industry dominated by a small handful of global agencies. These agencies are finally starting to bend under the burden, both because of the evolving advancements in technology and consumer habits mentioned above.

The problem is, too few agencies are thinking about themselves with as much creativity, insight, and innovation as they’re promising their clients. We’re still using old school models at a time when clients need us to deliver measurable results. Meanwhile, results have never been more measurable with data tracking solutions, and “measurability” has become our client’s most critical KPI. There’s just no excuse for clinging to old models anymore, but too many agencies are stuck conforming to them. For example, did you know most agencies don’t include digital and analytics teams in their processes until all the creative is already locked into place? And how is “digital” still a standalone department when nearly everything we do involves digital in one way or another?

How are agencies keeping up with today’s demands?  

First of all, not fast enough. A 2017 study by Creativebrief, a UK-based market intelligence firm, found that 68 percent of agency CEOs and 72 percent of brands agree that agencies aren’t evolving their company structures, pace of delivery, or processes at the rate demanded by brands and the market at large.

For example, nowadays, clients expect every agency to handle and excel at every one of their marketing needs, which can include:

  • PR
  • SEO
  • Graphic Design
  • Social Media
  • Web Development
  • Content Marketing
  • Video Marketing

Meanwhile, those same clients are no longer looking for old school, high power, global agencies. True, they want to work with fewer agencies, but they’re not 100 percent convinced by the full-service model. Yes, they want unified, exemplary teams, but they want teams that can work across disciplines AND agencies. They want an agency that thinks on their feet, with streamlined structures and processes that deliver fast results.   

Last but not least, they’re increasingly looking for in-house solutions at a higher caliber of strategy than ever before. For example, the same Creativebrief report found 72 percent of Chief Marketing Officers planned to “in-house” more marketing activity over the next three years, which was a considerable amount more than agencies anticipated.

This means agencies and brands can no longer afford to work week after week inside the old systems. While the old-school creative process might be good for larger advertising campaigns, with the rate and speed of content consumption, the speed of content creation has to keep up. Today, brands are more likely to in-house basic content-creation, like point of sale and email creative, or even have their own newsrooms to publish blogs and social content on the daily.

How are agencies changing?

Due to the evolving demands of today’s clients and marketing climate, agencies are increasingly finding themselves taking on project-based work. Because clients are taking on a lot more marketing work themselves, agencies offering à la carte solutions on a per-project basis are winning out over those that work only on retainer.

According to a RSW/US survey from January polling 115 agencies, 35 percent surveyed said a majority of their assignments are now project-based, while 16 percent reported over 80 percent of their work is project-based. That’s over one third of all agencies!

Agencies that are able to adapt to this new model are finding a lot of perks, including quicker turn-arounds, fewer resources and smaller teams needed, with revenue remaining more or less the same. This also means that no matter whether boutique or full service, the more specialized an agency becomes, the more it will benefit from project-based work.

That’s because the more marketing brands do in-house work, the more aware they become about what they need. Before, many clients initiated “marketing” services without knowing what they needed. If you’re engaging an agency in 2018, you’re going to need to think carefully about how to get the most out of their resources. Agencies will need to be more specialized and have higher-caliber resources to remain competitive. We at Lemonlight believe video is that resource.

Video is the competitive edge your agency needs.

As a marketing service provider today, you have to incorporate video services in your marketing plan to maximize your client’s marketing efforts. Video touches every distribution channel, and can positively benefit each and every one of your client’s marketing objectives, whether they’re trying to attract new visitors, engage web visitors, nurture prospective leads, or any number of other creative objectives.

Either by providing video services yourself, or partnering with a video production company, you can benefit your agency and your client by providing a niche service that can be incorporated into any project. If your client needs social media support, video is a great way to boost engagement and grow your client’s reach. If your company is trying to improve email open rates, just using the word “video” in a marketing newsletter can boost open rates by 19 percent and click-through rates by 65 percent. If you still don’t believe us, check out this list of 60 video marketing stats to keep in mind in 2018. Best of all, video delivers measurable results – as long as you know what KPIs to track based on your client’s marketing goals.

Finally, video equipment is one of the most expensive investments a company can make, so brands aren’t exactly lining up to throw down upward of $50,000 to bring video in-house. By offering video services in a project-by-project working relationship, you’ll likely have a resource that your clients don’t, and if you choose to partner with a video agency like ours, you can leverage a level of expertise you only get with a single-specialty agency.

When does it make sense to do everything yourself or look for outside help?

It all comes down to streamlining processes and focusing on defining and tailoring your marketing strategy around your client’s marketing objectives. Your primary objective as an agency should always be bringing the right expertise together to create the best results possible across all marketing efforts. To do this, you need to know where your team’s strengths are, and where you need outside help so you don’t spread yourself too thin. That’s true for your clients, too.

When clients start to bring marketing services in-house, they lose out on having an objective, outside perspective that creates new ideas that tap into relevant cultural trends. As an agency, you can keep your clients in check, and play devil’s advocate on behalf of the consumers. An outside video agency can do the same thing for you.

Having another agency’s input can provide a fresh perspective, diverse ideas, and a couple of extra minds to help with problem solving. Plus, if video isn’t your expertise, an outside video agency can bring their relationships and resources to the table. Plus, by bringing in an outside video agency to your project, you maintain creative control while reaping the benefits.

However, own your own expertise. If you have your own video team, leverage it. If you have the talent, put them to work. Growing your own video marketing department is an investment, and the positive results from incorporating video into your marketing strategy are showing no sign of slowing down. When times get tight, specialty agencies are the first to get cut from the budget, so keeping your agency’s skillset diverse is always going to be beneficial, especially when a client’s needs are project-based.  

The Bottom Line

Content-marketing is bigger than ever. With so many brands creating and utilizing their own internal teams to create content in-house, agencies are either creating smaller teams at a cheaper price point to compete, or ignoring small brands completely to focus exclusively on big, branded, above-the-line campaigns.

Either way, what brands are really looking for is a cohesive extension of their own teams. They either want their marketing agency to feel like a part of their team, or become a part of their marketing team’s process. And this isn’t a bad thing – the more agencies are including their clients in the process, the more those clients will champion an agency, their work, and most importantly, the results.

No matter what changes are in store for your agency, by offering video services, you’re protecting yourself from whatever the future holds. Video is not going away, and its benefits can positively improve every aspect of your client’s businesses. But it takes a creative and talented team to get it right.

If you’re looking for a partner with the expertise and vision to help your clients achieve their marketing goals, reach out! Schedule a call with our team today and let’s discover the best way we can work together.

Grant Harvey

Grant Harvey