A recent Forrester report just predicted that another 17,000 temporary jobs will be cut over the next year, on top of the already staggering 35,000 jobs cut in 2020. This will lead to an extraordinary number of skilled workers entering the labor market. And it already has a significant impact on how and where brands meet their creative, media and communication needs.
A large number of the roles that were eliminated were senior executives with extensive experience in various disciplines. While there is less experienced talent in traditional agencies, these people don’t just go away, nor are there any need for the kind of higher-order strategic work they do.
Looking to the future – and to steal the sentence of the moment – what does this “new normal” look like for the marketing industry?
I was at a crossroads in my own career about a year ago. Knowing that I was ready to turn my back on agency life, I began to explore how I could do the work I loved in a different, more autonomous environment. What I discovered was a thriving counterculture of independent consultants committed to changing the way the industry works and the way marketing is done.
The new normal isn’t one where brands diversify their agency list. Rather, it’s one that diversifies who they work with to solve some of their key marketing challenges.
Independent consultants, often with decades of diverse and integrated experience, bring new perspectives, flexible engagement structures and the innate desire to solve complicated problems to the table. They are very adaptable and ideal as partners for brands and agencies.
Now consider that businesses of all shapes and sizes have the potential to add another 50,000 of these self-employed marketing ninjas, and you can only imagine that systemic change is on the horizon.
Partnerships are born out of mutual admiration, not out of comfort.
The type of counseling activity is not permanent. The conditions and duration depend on the exact need to be filled out.
When consultants become part of a team within a brand or agency – or even with several other consultants – it is because all parties have recognized that they want to produce work and solve challenges together. They recognize and respect the contribution of each individual and know that they will only work together as long as they pursue their common goals.
Mutual admiration and respect determine the structure of teams and should result in happier team members and greater cost efficiency.
The connection between data and creativity becomes reality.
Most marketing consultants have been around long enough to see the “next big thing” pendulum swing in completely different directions. You know what the task of an extraordinary creative, strategic and targeted communication as well as data-driven insight and activation actually is.
This integrated understanding makes them well suited to developing processes and practices to bring data and creativity together for the benefit of consumers and brands alike.
The agency multiplier is an endangered species.
Consultants have very little effort and time is their most valuable asset. When brands evaluate fee structures, the use of the agency multiplier to compensate for the employee and to cover overhead costs comes under the microscope.
When a brand can get a senior consultant without agency markup, it begins to rethink what types of partnerships to use. The industry is likely to move to value-based pricing where brands compensate all partners based on the market value of the result or service, signaling a short future for negotiation based on an overall multiple.