I always find it fascinating when conferences bring together a panel of professionals and ask them to look into their proverbial crystal ball and tell us how the world will be different.

A couple weeks ago, during AdvertisingWeek’s conference, a panel that consisted of Jack Bamberger (SVP of Global Partnerships at Oath, Jeannine Falcone, the Managing Director of Digital Marketing for Accenture Interactive, Kelly Mooney, Co-lead of IBM iX Studios, Stephanie Anderson, CMO and Strategy Officer at AI Media Group, Andrew Bailey, Partner and CEO of The & Partnership and Tim Castree, Global CEO of WAVEMAKER) pretty much predicted that agencies will not exist.

You can watch the entire panel discussion here.

A takeaway quote that you might listen for — “In 3-5 years, agencies have a 30% chance of  survival.”

Have no fear — they’re wrong. First note that they all work for companies that sell with the “if you don’t want an typical agency” line.  They are positioned against agencies already.  So of course they don’t want to suggest that agencies can or will flourish in the future.

Which doesn’t mean they are completely wrong.

As I have said many times, agencies need to:

  • Stop focusing on selling stuff and instead sell their smarts, counsel and insight
  • Need to re-think their pricing strategies
  • Need to teach their account people how to ask better questions/be a strategic thinker
  • Need to invest in continued education for themselves (owners) and rising stars

I do believe that agencies will have to continue to evolve (as we always have) to stay relevant.  We have to get back into the C-suite.  We have to understand that we can’t exist if we only serve the CMO anymore.  Our job is to help our clients grow. That means we have to stick our nose into every aspect of their business.  We need to help them re-think everything from customer service to technology.

The agencies that do that will prove this panel of folks wrong.  The agencies that do that will be sought after. The agencies that do that will be 20%+ profitable.

Really the question is — will your agency be one of the ones who does that?