The Essence of Speed and the Ad Agency’s Role

Automated marketing. Push/pull marketing. Traditional marketing. Digital marketing. Content marketing. Search engine optimization. Tradeshow marketing. Direct mail marketing. Public relations.

The many arms of marketing – old and new tools alike – have one purpose and one purpose only. And it’s the same purpose they have always had. (Growing up with a father who lived, breathed and died marketing, I finally get to say this now that I have crossed the 25-year mark of my career.) Marketing is all about telling the story of your products and services in a compelling way that makes your customers want to stay engaged and value your brand. It all boils down to story telling.

Speed of business

The speed with which we do business has dramatically changed over the years. Not only has it quickly changed in my career, but also in the career of my right-hand-woman, who is in her early 30s. We have had to work hard and quickly implement new processes to deal with the change of speed.


The element of collaboration has also dramatically changed. When I started my career, we sat in individual cubicles and each person had a set of responsibilities. And after an intense strategy session at the beginning of each year, a small group of people made decisions on how to communicate and what to communicate. All communications were aligned with that strategy. The strategies and approaches usually held for at least two years, and sometimes three or four years. This made creating ads, collateral and other materials easy. The true hard work was done on the creative side. The lack of design programs meant highly trained artists and typographers created things by hand and film.

Today, business changes so fast thanks to global competition and real-time communications that companies must often shift their strategy to match the communications. Companies allow their customers’ communications to drive rather than driving the communications themselves and telling their own story. They are slow to respond because of the need for collaborative input from many different groups with different perspectives.

Marketing and communications agencies that want to drive value for their clients need to understand the value proposition as seen through multiple groups’ eyes and the customers’ eyes. Then, they must fight to get their opinions heard while bringing all of these groups together aligning their goals and views. The job isn’t to be divisive. Often it means working side by side with other agencies, internal communications and graphics teams. If we want the job done correctly, this is part of what we have to do. It’s a challenge for sure.

Patience and a sense of urgency must hang in the balance together. Above all, everyone must be a brand ambassador. The strategy must be more than just a tag line. In the end, the story being told is closer to the truth than marketing spin, because there is no marketing spin. For that reason, companies need to define the strategy carefully and frequently, and then align all parties.

Image via Flickr.

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