What is your agency doing to meet the escalating demands for digital?


digital marketing ad agencies

Digital is not an idea that you merely ‘check off’ your list.

Traditional agencies should know by now that digital training is critical to their new business success. 

“The market is now ready to take a big step to join, and in some cases even replace, traditional agencies in leading marketing strategy for top brands.” Sean Corocran, The Forrester Blog for Interactive Professionals

Rising to meet the explosive growth of digital, many of the larger agencies are now requiring that almost all of their employees develop digital skills. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the bigger agencies are spending roughly $750,000 to $1.5 million on digital training programs this year.

Unfortunately for the small to midsize agencies, 90% of employees said they learned by figuring out problems on their own  and have no definable career part this is according to a recent 4A’s and Arnold survey on hiring, development and retention of agency executives.

“The agency is a garden not a factory” the Editor-in-Chief of the Agency Collaboration Blog, Chris Yeh.

Chris provides an enlightening summary of this study that reinforces the importance of training:

Problems to overcome

  • 30% of advertising workforce says they’ll be gone from their job in 12 months.
  • 50% of talent in mar com industry feel undertrained and with no definable career path.
  • Top B-school grads find agencies passive and unresponsive.
  • Most important motivational factor [for Millenials]: Ability to learn.
  • 90% of employees say they learn by figuring things out on their own. 25% of executives say their employees learn on their own. This is a major disconnect.

 Possible solutions

  • Commit senior management time to partnering with select universities–go beyond career services.
  • Promote cross-training by sharing training sessions, encouraging reverse mentoring, laddering.
  • Introduce new incentives: Sabbaticals, relocation, “encore” system.
  • Engage employees in the conversation (like we tell our clients to do every day).

Creative director takes the initiative and makes the leap from traditional to digital.

Kristina Slade, made the radical decision to leave her job as associate creative director at Omnicom Group’s TBWA/Chia/Day, Los Angeles, to become creative director at San Francisco-based digital agency AKQA.

Here are some of the highlights and challenges Kristina expressed in an Ad Age interview interview:

  • “The industry needs to retain people
  • “I was at Chiat for 18 months and near the end of my tenure I was getting frustrated with traditional media. I was thinking there are better [online] opportunities for brands and consumers.
  • Digital is a self-curated experience, so if someone didn’t engage with you, it just didn’t happen. It’s about what can a brand give someone.”
  • “Jumping in and absorbing all that tech info was the first hurdle.”
  • “I’m pretty digitally savvy so I wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God what is this?’ But it was more about understanding the technology behind things.”
  • “It was just getting behind the scenes of technology so we could make smarter choices and  creative work that was better by leveraging all the potential platforms.”
  • “… we actually have metrics and can prove what we can get for every dollar spent in digital.”
  • “There are a few agencies that understand how to strategize differently, and some traditionals will become hybrids, but some think of digital as an idea to check off, that’s wrong.”

Please click on the following link to read Alexandra Bruell’s article, “Creatives Out of Their Comfort Zone: Kristina Slade“.

What is your agency doing to develop digital competency? Please share in the comment section below.

Additional articles that may be of interest:

photo credit: JD Hancock via photo pin cc

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.

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