How Many Agencies Claimed They’re “Connected” This Week?

by Jason Falls |

Because I’m one of few advertising agency folks playing vocally in the social media space, several friends have asked for my reaction to Forrester’s “The Connected Agency” report released Friday. I’ve also had a few ask what I thought about Jeremiah Owyang’s ear-flipping of the agency world with his post on Sunday.

My reaction? I’m surprised Jeremiah didn’t link to the Forrester report.

The Connected Agency cover pageLet’s be frank. There are a lot of people out there who don’t trust us in the agency world. Mary Beth Kemp and Peter Kim’s report pointed out that one advertising director at a high-tech firm called agencies, “a necessary evil.” They say we’re all stuck in the mass media world, focused on above-the-line execution and out of touch with consumers.

And if you’re generalizing, sure, most agencies probably own varying degrees of guilt there. And I’m sure a big wad of them jumped up this week and said, “Oh, we’re connected. Forrester is brilliant. We’ve been delivering community and conversation for years. Thanks, Forrester, for pointing out you should be calling us!”

One major problem with advertising agencies is that they’re exceptional at believing their own bullshit.

So, here’s where you expect me to start touting Doe Anderson as the solution, right? This is where I roll out the sales pitch on why my agency “gets it” and other agencies don’t. Well, you’re right, but you’re wrong.

In all aspects of the advertising agency business, we’re not perfect. I could tout and brag, sure. But so did everyone else this week. You don’t want to hear my trumpet blast any more than I want to give it.

What Forrester’s report did say, and accurately so in my opinion, is that agencies must evolve to focus less on time frame-driven campaigns and more upon ongoing community involvement. Forrester’s report drew accurate conclusions from not-so-new rhetoric. It read like a Cliff’s Notes of top marketing blogs dating back a couple of years.

What Forrester does very well, though, is take anecdotal evidence and hang solid analytical numbers on it. Though some of the numbers are from Europe and not the U.S. (Does this bug you, too?)

So the answer is for agencies to focus on communities. And the plethoric cries of “we’ve been doing that for years” echoes hollowly down the blocks of Madison Avenue like the Yankees’ World Series hopes.

Eight years ago, Doe Anderson developed a community idea. We implemented it. It grew. We knew then we were onto something. Admittedly, it’s taken us a while to wrap our brains around the notion that this is how we should grow the business of our clients, but we no longer see ourselves as an advertising agency in the traditional sense. We see ourselves as doing something Forrester’s report shrugged off.

“Brands may be tempted to go it alone but will only succeed with small groups of brand advocates.”

Small groups of brand advocates are the new influencers, gang. They are your community. Without them you have little chance of taking any idea to market and being successful. What you should be doing is focusing on the small groups of brand advocates and empowering them to share your brand with their friends. By cultivating brand enthusiasts you’re fostering the community.

Community cannot be found somewhere else. It already surrounds you. Stop looking and you’ll find it.

For those of you hoping to build community for a new brand, the same principle applies. Your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues are your brand enthusiasts. Share your passion with them, give them the tools to carry that passion forward and your community will grow.

Some agencies will tell you they can help you do that. There are a few qualified ones out there who can.

Doe Anderson has spent the last eight years building and growing a, “highly interactive and intelligently integrated through multiple channels, one contact driving the next and with WOM as a given,” community. I’d be happy to tell you about it, but not here. Not this week. Because as much as I hate to say it like this, we’re just not like everyone else.

Other Posts You’ll Find Interesting:

  1. The Connected Agency
  2. Why You Don’t Need An Advertising Agency … And Why You Do
  3. The Value Than An Agency Brings: Case In Point
  4. A Moment Of Truth For Digital Agencies
  5. Is This The Year Of The Un-Agency?
[tags]advertising, advertising agencies, ad agencies, Forrester, The Connected Agency, brand enthusiasts, brand loyalists, brand fans, Doe Anderson, community building[/tags]

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).