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I was watching Mad Men the other day and it suddenly hit me: back then, working for a marketing agency involved keeping your creativity sharp and thinking about innovative ways to communicate a brand’s message. Those days are long gone.

As technology evolved, the buying process changed and customers took control. Marketing agencies — no different from everyone else — had to adapt to a whole new business model.

The role and skill set of a CMO are completely different now from a decade ago. And so are the tasks and responsibilities of a marketing agency, as well as the services on offer. The reasons why companies hire marketing agencies these days are also different. The marketing world has changed!



So, what exactly has changed so much? First of all, as Marc Andreessen says: “Marketing is eating sales.” That, on its own, changes the game completely. Think about it this way:

  • Customers no longer need someone to give them information about the product (they can find it online);
  • The same holds true for discounts (there are plenty of options, such as online deals and coupons);
  • There’s nothing stopping customers from taking their business to a competitor on the other side of the world (the downside of globalization and e-commerce).

If these are the new terms, then why would customers be willing to talk to someone trying to sell them an outdated model?

Customers have all the power they need to make a decision. Since salesmen and vendors are not useful anymore in the buying stage, guess who’s responsible for nudging them in your direction? Yes, Marketing!

With that in mind, some might jump to conclusions and think: Sales is dead! But what’s happening is actually the opposite. Sales is more alive than ever. The difference is that you might not need a sales team or a sales force working exclusively on closing deals. What you will need, in fact, is for everyone who’s currently in contact with customers to be able to make a sale – and by selling I mean moving people further down the funnel.

  1. Your marketing team needs to be able to move leads into prospects and prospects into buyers.
  2. Your customer service team needs to convert simple clients into advocates; needs to upsell and cross-sell to them.
  3. Your evangelist guy needs to spread the word and turn people into fans.


What Changes for Marketing Agencies?

From a marketing agency perspective, the new opportunities presented are huge. Not many companies have all the resources and knowledge necessary to transform their marketing department into a revenue machine. In that context, marketing agencies that focus primarily on results can come in very handy. These agencies are not targeting companies that can afford branding, they are targeting companies that need customers and revenue — and let’s be honest, do you know any companies that don’t need this?

Creating a repeatable, scalable and predictable leads-machine seems easier in theory than in practice. That said, agencies can afford to hire experts in different fields and use outsourced contractors for more operational roles. In addition, they can partner with tech companies to automate part of their services and thus avoid hiring an army for each client.

As a result, the deliveries are much more tangible and they can be easily measured. For example: if the average subscription from a company is 5k/mo, their conversion rate is 30%, and you’ll have delivered 20 new qualified opportunities this month. That means you have generated 30k in revenue this month alone.


It all comes down to this: you can see the current state of affairs as a crisis in the marketing agency industry or you can see it as the largest opportunity of the century. It only depends on how you face it.

this article was originally posted on Oct-26th-2015

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