I love this time of year. The conversations are full of gratefulness, vulnerability and beauty. I often wonder why we can’t take this tone into the rest of the year. There is, of course, the counter-trend that plays out on the news channels, one of bombastic, testosterone-driven pronouncements. Egos gone wild. This time of year, social media begins to fill up with posts from agencies that fall into this category of being out of touch. I’m talking about the Ad Agency Holiday Party to promote “Agency Culture.” Sure, they look fun, wrapped in an orgy of self-congratulatory celebration and promotion but they seem out of step with those working in the space of co-creating the future of marketing.
What do these parties do for the work? For the client? And what do they cost the client?
As a new culture emerges within the space of open innovation, we’re noticing that there’s less room for the self-inflicted bombasity that happens with any organization that serves as an intermediary. In the end, it’s all about the people and the work.
In a recent interview with John Perry, CMO of Power Digital at GE, as part of a study about Dyan Finkhousen, of GE’s GENIUSLINK and its ability to bring open tools to help GE innovate, I was intrigued by the new marketing department he was building. He eschews agencies and wants everyone in his department deeply involved in the work. “I want everyone in the department to have a sharp pencil on their desk,” he said. He believes that his team needs to own the strategy and manage the creative themselves. His team connects directly with talent on the crowdsourcing platform Upwork.
When I asked him what’s driven him to re-create this system, he told me these five things:
- Be Notoriously Cheap Use the power of a digital network to find new and cheaper ways to do the work.
- Constantly Refresh With an open talent network, like Upwork for example, you can constantly refresh creative and strategic thinking.
- Date Think about professional relationships within the context of dating, not marrying. If your department owns the strategy and creative direction, there is so much good talent out there to help you out.
- Trust Your Instincts Take control of your marketing process by flexing your strategic and creative instincts. It takes a bit of time but is so much more satisfying than handing all the work to an outsider.
- Have A DIY Mentality The power of digital connection means you can find the answer to anything. Why get someone else to repair your bike when you can watch a video from a world-class expert and do it yourself?
One of the things I most enjoyed about the interview with John was his humility born out of doing the work. This humility breeds confidence that can be felt in the brand’s voice.
Shifting the paradigm does take more work but ultimately, you’ll have more control. We’re finding in a lot of our research that using open talent finds solutions that are as good or better, four to five times faster and eight to ten times cheaper.
As you peruse your social media and come across images of your agency enjoying themselves at a holiday party, ask yourself, “What is that party costing me?” Then ask, “Is there a better, more modern way to produce marketing momentum?”