Walter van der Scheer

Five characteristics of highly successful agencies

Written by Walter van der Scheer Thijs van Diessen on

What do poignant punch lines, strong sales skills, bravado and twenty year old single malt have in common? They all used to be the ingredients for a successful advertising agency. Today, brands simply don't buy the traditional agency business model of creativity and advertising any more. So, over the past decade, agencies have had to rethink their strategy and redefine their business models. Agencies aren't simply divided into above-the-line or below-the-line anymore like they used to. The light in the opaque world of advertising has definitely been extinguished and is being replaced by other characteristics.

While working with hundreds of agencies in the past decade, we have seen transparency and accountability wiping out the traditional agency model. So what makes an agency sustainable and successful today? By taking a closer look, we have been able to point out five essential elements that successful agencies have in common. In this article we share the five characteristics of tomorrow's agency.

Five characteristics of highly successful agencies

Redefinition of the traditional agency

If not already, every traditional agency needs to redefine its core structure. Uncomfortably enough, to do so, agencies have to ask themselves the questions they would typically ask their clients.

"What makes your business unique?" "Why should a company pay for that? What is your added value?"

If you're having difficulties asking yourself these questions, you could of course hire an agency to screen your proposition.

Not everything related to advertising changed since the sixties though. Mad Men's Don Draper was right when he said: "Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you're doing is OK. You are OK." The difference is the way that this reassurance is broadcasted to the market. Or should we say: the fact that the message is not simply broadcasted, but shared.

Five characteristics of highly successful agencies

Successful agencies focus on the customer and the goals. They are able to analyse gigabytes of data to understand the preferences of individual customers. Creativity in combination with technology is utilized to exceed targets and revenues come from a wide array of scalable services and products.
Successful agencies share at least four of the following five characteristics.

  1. A substantial part of our revenues is recurring
  2. Technology is an enabler for our business
  3. We collaborate with other agencies and specialists, they allow us to excel in what we do
  4. Our business is scalable
  5. Creativity? Great, but how does it contribute to reaching goals?

Registered Copernica partner Brainstorm Internet Marketing sketched the following infographic of these five characteristics:

Five characteristics of highly successful agencies

What do you think? Is this a complete list, or did we miss a characteristic? Which of the characteristics mentioned above do you find most difficult to apply to your business?