Three ring circus

Over the past three weeks, I have talked to over 10 agencies/consulting firms about the current and future state of Digital Marketing space. From where I sit, they all seem to look at the space in a similar way — breaking it down to more or less three areas. (Yes, it is a three ring circus : )

Meaning these companies aspire to play in one or more of three different types of businesses.

1. Digital Marcom where These companies want to handle a lot of the program management and tactical implementation of social media programs. This area consists of all the traditional parts of the marketing mix and some secret Social Media sauces fall into this — such as SEO, SEM, email, Facebook/Twitter management, etc.

2. Transform or Re-Engineer or Change Management an organization so that it can be more successfully in playing in the social media space.

3. Strategic Consulting. These companies want to play  in the space often occupied by top 5 consulting firms, such as:

OK  that’s more than 5 : )…and i didn’t even mention Bain. (and I like them Bain guys)

The Digital Marcom space is easy for these agencies — cause they can bill by the hour, be program focused, take on monthly or quarterly services. There’s some real challenges in making this a longer term viable business or in creating real value in the company. You are only as good as the business coming in, the hours you bill, and the people on your team. Very little intellectual property or products/services are created.

Transforming an organization is always a challenge, but it is a great space to play in cause you are dealing with so many audiences (internal, external, etc.), so many variables (age groups, psycho-graphics, firmagraphics (size and industry of company), old school traditional ways of working vs. new more flexible and transparent ways, etc. The challenge here is that most companies are set up in a hierarchical and silo’d structure so to really impact an organization can be challenging. It is possible to create some IP or Playbooks or processes that can be used more than once and improve your companies value.

Acting like a strategic consulting firm: Many of the agencies want to be like a big traditional consulting firm and work on a consistent basis with C-Level individuals. Probably because they can charge more per hour, work with C-Level individuals more, and maybe develop IP. I am not sure these sorts of agencies have the right DNA. They don’t have individuals who have experience in ‘strategy’ — at larger consulting firms and (I hate to say this) and the top schools. Even the top Public Ivy schools (Michigan, Minn, etc.).

Obviously, there are other areas that don’t perfectly fall into one of these three rings. Community Management and Analytics are two of them. But even these fall into one of the above areas.

Some of the agencies I spoke to are reinventing the business model.

I want to flesh out these three areas — and am open to suggestions to other Circus rings. I am open for feedback, comments, etc. I obviously can’t create a blue print on my own:

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