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03/29/2010 Who Leads Adaptive Marketing?

Sean Corcoran has an interesting post about the roles various agencies can play in the future of marketing. His thesis is that no type of agency is ready to lead. Both agencies, and their clients, know this. The challenge, according to Corcoran, is that in this social media era where customers have more control due to technology enabling tools, traditional agencies still don't have the weight to lead in technology and interactive agencies don't have the background to lead in branding.

Edward Boches has a great take on why he feels energized by the report (it validates where he's going and more people will read it, since it comes from Forrester).  He also offers some tidbits not included in Sean's blog.


What struck me most was this line from Forrester:

"The reality is marketers should own their social media strategy since it is about creating direct conversations with consumers, with agencies playing a supporting role helping develop strategy, identify influentials, build out communities and infrastructure and help with analytics (to name a few)."

That's a huge shift for many companies. One of the reasons they hire agencies is that they don't have to own their marketing. TV ads and Web site builds are but two examples of how companies outsource large parts of their brand.

Owning the strategy and conversation moves companies back into making marketing a part of the core business, not just something added on. The challenge is how companies will find time for their employees to own that relationship. Hire more? Shift job responsibilities? Once the focus shifts from technologies and outsourcing as the sole solution to employees' time and efforts, then brands face a stark choice, since most have used employee "streamlining" as a way to reduce costs and improve profits.

What Forrester seems to be saying is that if brands don't invest in their own ownership of the conversation in social media then no agency or group of agencies will fill that ownership void for them. It's clear who leads: The brand itself, or no one.


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