I just got back from having coffee with one of the movers and shakers in the marketing and advertising industry on both a local and a national level. John Q. and I talked about a lot of things, but we focused a little on something that was affecting us both…the changing world around us, particularly in our chosen field. John is an early innovator of the “virtual agency” model. It’s a concept I’m passionate about and feel very strongly will be the wave of the future.
Basically it is the concept that by using a team of freelance talent overseen by a Creative Project Manager, a small to medium business owner can save a lot of marketing and advertising dollars over a traditional advertising agency and still receive stellar results. John was practicing this concept as early as 2000 long before the concept hit the mainstream in the last couple of years.
We talked about how it’s been a bit hard selling this concept to small to medium businesses. They seem to think if you don’t have a floor full of fancy offices with fancy billing to boot, you can’t be doing great creative. John and I beg to differ.
It’s been my experience while working at several agencies over the years that they can be just a billable hour generator. Not all mind you, but far too many of them. They don’t understand the need to do strategic marketing planning or the need to measure results. In other words they are stuck in a rut of doing what the client wants and billing them for it, big time. Eventually the relationship falls apart when the client begins to realize this.
On the other hand the client has this preconceived notion that unless the agency has the top floor of an office tower downtown, that is furnished in the latest Hermann Miller, it can’t be producing good, solid, result getting creative work. This is another “rut” John and I have encountered.
So what do we do about it? In my opinion it is just a matter of educating our target market much like we would do for a client with their product or service. After all, John and I have creative products and services of our own to market. Our product and services are mostly our ideas and the results we achieve with them. So how does one educate his audience? By constantly sending out a consistent message and backing it up by the facts. Good talent can be found outside of an agency.
As a small to medium business owner you need to avoid having a small mind full of preconceived notions about where to find good creative talent. Rise above your rut of thinking and look toward the very talented freelance community.