Opinion: Perspective - How to respond to the ever-changing demands of clients

With the needs of clients changing from month to month, the demands they put upon their agencies equally change at an ever-increasing clip.

So much of the discourse on how agencies should today respond to this has focused around two alternative methods.

The big idea approach, which flows down through all media, ensuring tight integration: leading the way, setting the agenda for others to second-guess and follow. And the social approach, more bottom-up and holistic: listen, learn, interpret and respond, get involved in the action, take part in the discussion.

Both have their merits, both lend themselves to particular situations we'll encounter today, and, in addition, there also exists a myriad of variations on the above as well as everything in between.

Rather than worry about which direction is the right way forward, I'd argue that a modern agency should be adept at some combination of all of these approaches, capable, of course, of understanding how to choose the right tool for the right job.

This in itself is hardly controversial; indeed, it's a common refrain that we'll hear from all corners of the agency world. Being capable of executing across a broad range of media is a particular grail that many agencies seek. It's a compelling argument to clients to be able to act as a one-stop shop or, at the very least, to remain the gatekeeper to their creative needs.

As we all head to the muddled middle, what I believe will be one of the defining characteristics of any successful modern communications agency will be the ability to change gear quickly. By this, I don't mean agencies must become Jacks-of-all-trades, especially as being the master of none is hardly a compelling future for any creative agency. Rather, just as clients' demands change from month to month or even from week to week, so too should an agency be able to respond and react to these changes just as quickly.

As campaigns shift from periods of vocal broadcast frenzy to calmer periods of sustenance and extension, different facets of an agency's personality will be called upon.

Frankly, at times, agencies will more often need to show a degree of humility that few possess, to be able to step back when required and let others take the lead; but they'll remain aware, ready and willing to promptly step back up to get behind an idea as it begins to gain traction and take off.

So, being responsive, agile and multitalented must be matched with an awareness for and openness to genuine collaboration. Get this right and we'll be well placed for whatever comes at us in the future, able to play best to our particular strengths, unafraid of leading when the opportunity demands it.


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