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Agencylife in a Time of Technological Progress

Technical expertise is limited. Find a stack that you can stick with.

Nothing in the world is eternal, except for change

We have witnessed rapid technological development over the last three decades, which has resulted in the most significant changes since the inception of marketing agencies. The gap between the services provided and managed by agencies and the needs of the market or clients is growing by the day.

Marketing agencies fail to adapt their work processes quickly enough and to ensure the professionalism of their staff in order to meet the expectations and needs of their clients. Clients, however, frequently demand solutions that are not in line with their business goals due to their ignorance of an ever-expanding technological field. Because of their servility, agencies like to accommodate them, concealing their deficient competencies, but this creates a vicious cycle of inefficiency.

To understand the present, we must first look to the past.


Historically, the biggest mistakes made by marketing agencies have been a lack of transparency about their competencies (what they know and don’t know) and an unconditional acceptance of any new business, even if it is outside the scope of their knowledge or professionalism.

If we wish to understand where such a pattern comes from, we must look at the evolution of marketing agencies. Modern marketing agencies were established in the 1980s, when marketing was still relatively simple and manageable in comparison to the challenges that today’s agencies face.

The role of marketing agencies has changed dramatically since the introduction of the Internet in the 1990s and, ten years later, mobile phones. Previously, businesses comprised primarily of creative individuals who adapted their work processes to their mentality and needs were abruptly forced to add a new variable to the equation - technology.

Initially, technology coexisted as a supplement to other services offered by traditional agencies, until it grew larger and more demanding than marketing tasks. With the advent of digitalisation, which I believe agencies have yet to master (more on that later), it has become clear that the development of technological solutions necessitates better people and process management. And a lot of them burned down here. For many years, agencies were able to cover this up expertly because the market, on the other hand, did not understand the technologies and changes brought about by digitalisation.

Since the start of the covid-19 crisis, all of the consequences of marketing agency directors’ bad decisions have come to light, with the neglect of human resource development and work processes being particularly pronounced.

Modern challenges

At a time when most good products solve a single problem perfectly, the list of services offered by agencies is expanding. Aside from standard marketing solutions, agencies also offer high-tech products. These, on the other hand, require specialized knowledge of people and processes that differ from traditional marketing methods.

Before adding such services to their portfolio, agencies should at least test them for free a few times, or hire people who are familiar with them from personal experience (on the same, not similar platform).

The fact that someone has experience does not imply that the company that hired him has mastered the technology.

Unfortunately, most agencies learn from their clients’ projects while delivering mediocre results. Of course, this leads to overpromising and missed deadlines, which leads to overtime and weekend work. This is understood to be part of the #agencylife culture, which is one of the primary causes of burnout.

Human resources

Employee knowledge and an enabling working environment have a significant impact on the company’s performance. However, it appears to me that marketing agencies have yet to master this philosophy. In many places, the rule that everyone is interchangeable still applies, as does the belief that young people are waiting in line for work. Both may be true, but good results are impossible to achieve without competent personnel.

Personnel turnover is a part of the #agencylife culture, and this attitude has only shifted with the arrival of technology companies and globalization. Previously, marketing agencies had only two types of employees: “stars” and everyone else. The star transfer resembled the transfer of football players from Barcelona to Real Madrid. It was nearly impossible, if not outright forbidden, and everyone else’s transfers were common practice on a daily basis.

The business model of agencies is quite simple: sell as many time units (hours/days) of each employee as possible. Employees, however, can only work 8 or 10 hours per day, and the result is dependent on their efficiency. When a person has sufficient knowledge and works in an enabling environment, he is most effective. With frequent personnel turnover and experimentation, the agencies do the exact opposite. Even the most senior professionals in a new environment require a few months to reach their full potential, so the constant flow of employment is stifling growth. This is critical for the efficient operation and growth of agencies.

Agency life

Technology, not a campaign

It has long been assumed that technology is merely an adjunct to a marketing agency’s idea or campaign. The directors preferred that it be subordinated to existing agency processes rather than the other way around. This has resulted in an unsuitable environment for technology professionals and the way they expect to work.

Today’s winners are the agencies that have fully integrated the “technology first” mindset into work processes, allowing developers and creatives to collaborate productively. New business models are centered on mastering the technology that allows for the achievement of business objectives.

The reason for the shift is that younger generations have never known a world without the Internet and expect the technology to be available to everyone. Brands need agency teams to monitor trends and upgrade their technological know-how in order to reach out to them.

Ignorance and the use of too many technologies at once are common mistakes made by marketing agencies. They become unsustainable and expensive over time, and they do not provide clients with the desired results. The issue is usually not the technology itself, but the management’s attitude toward it. Some are concerned about the changes it will bring to the organization and its relationship with clients. As a result, they cultivate a negative attitude toward it, rejecting integration.

Is it the clients’ fault?

When you are a service provider, your employees are a product that is influenced by various interactions with clients. Some clients encourage employees to work harder and grow professionally, while others prevent them from doing so by placing unrealistic demands on them. Depending on the attitude, knowledge, and cooperation style. Even the most well-intentioned clients bring “baggage” into the relationship. One of the agency’s most important tasks, and the key to its success, is to properly target expectations.

To achieve a successful common path to the goal, an agency must correctly assess whether the client relationship is appropriate and promote the chemistry that such a relationship requires. The majority of poor cooperation and toxic relationships are the result of poor business decisions. Each project’s cruel pace and struggle are dictated by the market and competition. Refusing to participate in such an environment appears to be a crazy decision, despite the fact that it is frequently critical to the agency’s success.

Clients are aware of this as well, because they frequently subordinate agencies to their processes and expect unconditional servility from them. As a result, agencies are merely an extension of their departments with limited knowledge, which almost never yields the desired results.

The future

The coronavirus epidemic has forever altered user habits, which, of course, affects brands and, through them, marketing agencies. The market requires rapid response and adaptation to change, creating an excellent opportunity for complete agency digitization.

Agencies are looking for solutions outside of their traditional service offerings, which opens up new business opportunities.

Most concentrate on technological solutions that necessitate novel approaches and knowledge. Younger employees have different expectations and habits that agencies must adapt to if they want to keep them. Processes for technically literate clients are also changing, indicating that they know what they want and expect.

As a result, agencies must reduce the range of services they provide. And to master and sell only the technologies they are truly knowledgeable about. Only in this manner will they be able to succeed in business and deliver above-average results. This is also the only requirement for maintaining a positive relationship with satisfied clients who are willing to pay the full market price.

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