Rapid advances in digital technology and AI-driven solutions in marketing and advertising were already changing the face of traditional agency-client relationships and partnerships when 2020 ushered in a global pandemic that fundamentally shifted human engagement and interaction. With lockdowns and closures, more and more people consumed their information AND engaged with people via digital media. Rapid change became hyper-rapid change with a growing myriad of touchpoints. The question becomes how to thrive, not just survive these challenging times.
Pre-pandemic, we at INK were observing that the “old ways” of doing business for many clients were starting to break down. Large, full-service agencies did not have the agility required to capitalize on fast-moving events; rosters of freelancers provided little brand continuity, and in-house teams did not always have the depth and breadth of experience required to quickly connect the dots on what is trending—and what is not. At the same time, technological advances in digital media were creating incredible opportunities for more highly customized campaigns to reach larger audiences, but the landscape of existing and emerging resources is increasingly large and complex.
Change is now happening at a dizzying speed. Applications, programs, platforms in advertising and marketing are springing up, being refined, redesigned, and made obsolete in short cycles. Social media avenues and venues are growing exponentially, reaching audiences at speeds and numbers unimaginable just a few years ago. And so, adaptation begins.
With exponential growth in digital media and AI-driven solutions, companies are finding opportunities to create their own campaigns in-house, with the right applications, the right programs, the right platforms, and the right strategies, lessening their reliance on outside agencies. What they need now are sharp, experienced veteran marketing advisors with their fingers on the pulse. The strategic thinkers. The ones that can look at the data, the context, the quickly shifting sands, and make the right call on the best path forward. This is the face of the new marketing agency. The cartographer for new destinations, the navigator for existing territory, and the gatherer and sifter of facts—the interpreter of current events, the foreseer of future events.
There has been a proliferation of online companies springing up that offer everything from large-scale fully integrated ad agency services to a vast array of highly specialized marketing services—services like AI-driven writing assistance, graphic design, copywriting, video development and editing, music, photography, generating reviews, lead generation, search engine optimization, data collection, the list is endless. Not surprisingly, there is also a proliferation of businesses that specialize in digital asset management—given the rate at which these assets are now growing. The point is there is an ever-growing number of resources out there for making “in-house” marketing and advertising as good as “production house”—at a fraction of the cost.
Reaching target audiences means working with media giants like Google, Meta, Instagram, and LinkedIn as well as the countless small unique collectives of media specialists. It is at this juncture in time that we at INK see great opportunity. Ultimately these game-changing tools should be giving clients the ability to free themselves from cumbersome agency relationships for dally creative production and to streamline their internal staffing needs so that core team members are put to their highest and best use.
Often, and especially in times of great upheaval and change, organizations are moving so quickly to adapt, they don’t have the time to step back and see how all the systems are working together—or not. They don’t know what they don’t know and too often stray into not knowing what they are doing. In this kind of environment, knowledge of the rapidly evolving space and the ability to rapidly implement change is crucial.
To thrive today, we believe in the power of knowing and doing. The Know-Do gap is a well-known phenomenon of having the information or knowing, but not knowing how to put the knowing into practice or doing. Conversely, too often action is taken without a solid foundation of knowledge. Either way, the gap can prove deadly on a company’s bottomline.
The Challenge – in a nutshell: Having been in the agency business for over twenty years, we’ve seen all sorts of structures used by clients to facilitate their advertising and marketing efforts. We’ve also seen the challenges that accompany these arrangements. Out-of-control agency expenses with little accountability around ROI. Slow turn-around times. Lackluster creative In-house teams whose expertise may not be as up to date as clients would like. Lack of cohesion and adherence to brand standards. Cumbersome – or slapdash – review and approval processes. And organizations moving so fast that they don’t have the time to take a step back and look at how these systems can be improved.
INK is a crack team of seasoned agency veterans and nimble digital disruptors whose sole mission is to revolutionize our client’s marketing workflows so that they no longer have to rely on traditional “ad agencies” to create outstanding results. We leverage our decades of marketing expertise—both on the agency and client side—to radically transform our clients’ ability to produce world-class creative, in-house, for a fraction of their historic costs, within 120 days.
Knowledge is foundational. If the foundation is flawed, if the right information is not collected or what is collected is misinterpreted, huge know-do gaps dog the systems. Collecting and using the right information is critical. And with rapid change, how to identify with what is needed now, and with your future needs is dizzying.
Support for Doing: It takes a very experienced and highly seasoned group of marketing experts to provide the level of quick, meaningful, data-informed insights required to navigate the new normal. Development of strategy: what tools to pick from leading-edge digital and AI-driven solutions? How to staff? How to train? And how will all the various systems work together? How to implement and monitor (quality assurance) current workflows, new workflows, and outcomes, consequences—both intended and unintended? And how can the ongoing data collection continue to flow from knowing to doing, always informed by the current and ever-shifting context?
The Solution—INK’s Got It Covered.
Our team works with clients to build and monitor their own marketing and advertising workflows and campaigns using off-the-shelf as well as proprietary systems. The approach provides rich foundational knowledge for clients to build and monitor campaigns and provides critical data for ongoing campaign quality assurance.
The Process—We begin with a thorough assessment and gap analysis of the current marketing workflow—both with agency partners and with internal teams. We prepare a findings document that overlays a new recommended workflow supplemented by leading-edge digital and AI-driven tools to dramatically streamline current processes. Upon approval, we implement the new workflow and tools, build a custom digital dashboard to drive the process, and train internal teams to use the tools—building resilience in as little as 120 days.
The Results—Our clients can expect to see a 30% improvement in turnaround times and efficiency and up to a 60% reduction in agency costs. Many clients also see reductions in in-house creative staffing costs as well. We are successful when you no longer need us, or any other agency, to create the vast majority of your marketing output.
Support—When our initial engagement is complete, our clients have all the tools they need and have been thoroughly trained to use them. If requested, we also offer follow-on support packages for annual system reviews and upgrades (including brand asset clean-up), annual campaign and template development, brand building and strategic support, and recruiting and training services for in-house staffing needs.
For additional details, please contact us at thenderson@INKagency.com.