Agency Words to Live by: Innovate or Die

Posted on February 21st, 2013 by True Media

In the ad game, you either innovate or get left behind. We all know it’s true. And it applies to all areas within the agency. From media plans to systems to internal policy, you must keep innovating, or the agency down the street that is constantly evolving will move in for the kill. And we all know what happens then – your clients, and possibly your employees, will move down the street.
From the planning and strategy side, we must push our clients forward and not settle for the norm. The digital side of our business is evolving at warp speed, and we all need to do so as well. What worked last year may very well be out of date this year. We owe it to our clients to not only educate them on industry trends but also push them to get on board with the newest technology and digital strategies.
A good rule for this is the 70/20/10 theory:

  • Spend 70% of your budget on what you know works  – the tried and true.
  • 20% on tactics and vendors that are industry leaders with new ideas.
  • 10% on a wild card – something so new, you may very well be one of the first advertisers to try it.

Will some things under-perform? Sure. But it’s OK if you learn from it, if you gather data from it and apply it to other tactics moving forward.
Another area to push innovation is the display space – specifically in terms of buying display weight. Going to a website and buying some impressions just doesn’t cut it anymore. Neither does sending out five RFPs to various ad networks and hoping to get a bunch of cheap and fast impressions.
Instead, you must push forward with the latest technology. In this case, if you are not using a tool to help with programmatic buying, then you’re about to get left behind. The ability to combine 1st party data with 3rd party data, automating the process and doing so with no loss of targeting is a great thing, and quickly becoming an industry standard.
Innovation also needs to be seen within your organization’s culture. The agency business is extremely competitive  – it can be difficult to keep top talent without the other guy swooping in to steal your star players. Offering unique perks and opportunities has become a common practice. Options could range from having a leading training program to offering employees summer Fridays; or springing for catered lunches and team building activities centered around community involvement and volunteer time.
While building a culture is important,  you must also be contributing to your employees’ creative development by keeping them fulfilled with the work they do. You must strive to push your employees forward by helping them grow professionally. Identify their passions and work with them to accomplish career goals.
These are just a few ways to keep your agency moving forward. If, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself the question, “Am I truly bringing innovation to my business?” then you’re already behind.