In the advertising space, we tend to think of ourselves as service providers vs product-based companies. But the reality is that every deliverable and even every methodology we apply to create a deliverable can be thought of as a product.
Why does that matter? Because we don't think of services as a space that is constantly evolving, but we all know that products continually evolve (or become extinct). When we think of our business in terms of the products we provide, it causes us to ask important questions like; when was the last time we refreshed our strategic product? What about our new business product (or approach)? How about the agency as a product itself? How have we evolved that product to stay in tune with the constantly changing realities we operate within?
This doesn't just apply to the agency - it applies to everything within the agency including the systems that keep the agency either ahead of the pack or lagging the competitors. You've heard the adage "it takes a village to raise a child"; the same applies to staying ahead of your competition. It takes everyone and everything playing their part.
Employees should be expected to stay abreast of the latest trends relative to the accounts they work on and the advertising space itself. They should be plugged into the myriad of publications, newsletters, networking events and conversations impacting their clients' worlds and their own. They should feel empowered to bring key advancements to the attention of the agency either through digital means or through an established meeting for that purpose (for reference, read our blog posting on implementing an Ideation Deliverable at your agency).
Agency vendors should play their part by continuously evolving their products and services to not only meet the needs of the agency but stay ahead of those needs - helping to effectively "pull" the agency forward through the implementation of the latest technologies and methodologies.
One example would be the impact that Advantage Software's AQUA agency management system had on many customers when it incorporated Agile project management technologies and methodologies like Kanban and Scrum Boards and Sprints. Many agencies were unfamiliar with the concept of Agile development because it grew out of the software industry vs the advertising industry. But because the techniques, workflows, etc. were built into the AQUA software, the agencies began implementing Agile within the agency and have seen incredible productivity improvements as a result.
If your agency doesn't have a regular practice of inviting vendors in (whether they currently work with the agency or not) to share the latest technologies, case studies and techniques in their space, you're missing out on a great way to stay informed and competitive. In some agencies, setting up "Lunch & Learn" meetings like these are the responsibility of Project Management, while some agencies expect the Creative group to handle it because of the impact that such technologies often have on the creative product. Regardless of who does it, it's worth making sure your agency is benefitting from meetings of this sort.
So while you're asking yourself "when was the last time our Communication Planning product evolved?", it's worth asking the same of your agency support systems (like Media, Accounting, Project Management, etc.). If you don't know the answer - it's a good bet that product isn't helping you stay competitive.
Keeping your services and your products fresh is difficult, time-consuming and expensive (and pulls our attention from immediate deliverables). But it's critical to staying competitive and successful in today's marketplace.
Just remember; it takes a village. Make sure the village is working for you.
Advantage is continuously evolving our agency-focused management software to make sure our customers are always operating with the latest technologies and techniques. We recently released AQUA Media to give agencies a cutting-edge media solution that integrates with Accounting and Project Management to maximize the opportunities to automate workflows, increase throughput and minimize errors. We'd love to show you what a vibrant, continuously evolving agency-focused software solution looks like. Click below to let us know when you'd be available for an online demo.