As the media and technology landscape continues to change, agencies and brands are continuing to align in new and powerful ways. Startups and SMBs are looking for cost-efficient ways to leverage the creative capabilities and executive mindshare of top agency talent to create and improve brand identity, marketing campaigns, and growth initiatives.
Over time digital agencies have evolved so much. Therefore, I did some digging around to see if they are relevant for businesses in 2016. While researching I came across a company called CCG and decided to get their opinions on the issue. This interview covers various questions that can let you know whether or not it is time to hire a digital agency for your business.
Please tell me more about CCG and what your company does.
CCG (www.ccg.la) is a creative and digital marketing agency headquartered in Santa Monica, CA. We started the agency just as Silicon Beach was beginning to take shape. Since then we've been fortunate to have worked with hundreds of startups, SMBs, non-profits, and large global corporations to build brands, create products, and craft marketing campaigns that drive results. Our mission is to bring enterprise level creative and marketing to companies of all sizes and industries. Great branding and thought leadership should not be reserved just for the biggest brands.
What makes for the best agency/brand relationship?
As a business grows, the question of hiring an agency or building an in-house team becomes a big point of discussion. In our experience, the most effective marketing teams utilize a combination of in-house staff and an agency that can infuse a fresh perspective and bring creative new ideas. The best agency is an extension to your team, one that acts as a hybrid between management consultant, creative director, and chief marketing officer in helping craft the narrative, digital assets, and strategy execution that drive immediate and scalable results. We augment our clients' core competencies to derive the most value on every project or initiative.
What challenges are small to mid-size businesses facing?
A defined brand identity that is communicated clearly and quickly (if not instantly) is a key challenge in an ever-expanding and rapidly changing digital space. The customer experience will define the success and failure for enterprise of the future, which means a brand's most important asset is its relationship with the customer. As barriers to entry continue to fall and technology continues to accelerate the appearance of new entries in industries once thought impenetrable, a company's brand is an asset that secures its position ahead of the curve. Conversations between brands and customers are happening in real-time, making challenging brands with task of delivering tangible benefits to customers instantly while scaffolding dynamic, unique experiences across every medium.
It means more than having a great website or posting on social media, it's about creating that customized dialogue that speaks to every customer with an authentic voice and message.
How do you measure success with your clients?
Too often, the brand/agency relationship doesn't begin with a true meeting of the minds. Both parties may technically have the same goals, but by design they have different roles in pursuing those goals, and even talk about them in different languages. Traditionally, the agency is tasked with extracting insights, synthesizing them into a strategy, producing creative, and leveraging (the right) media vehicles, while the client works on nurturing the brand, innovating the product, and streamlining operations. The agency speaks a language of output, while the brand speaks the language of outcome.
Success happens when agencies and brands speak the same language, which in turn can only happen when they collaboratively identify what performance indicators should be measured, and then decide what metrics and goals will look like from that perspective.
You've worked with hundreds of startups. What insight have you gained and how are they useful for SMBs and enterprise businesses?
A vibrant entrepreneurial community is driving innovation and pushing the bounds of how technology impacts everyday life across all industries and categories. This ability to measure real, unarticulated, and dynamic emotional consumer expectations is equipping marketers with new tools to engage, delight, and profit, making integrating the right technology a critical piece when cultivating a brand identity that grows the right way.
We utilize a variety of core principles taken from innovative startups. With speed being a critical component to success, we implement a "Sprint" mentality when it comes to design, development, and marketing. We are constantly testing, iterating, and evolving in order to best leverage the often unexpected opportunities created by a capricious global media landscape.
What do you think the future of the industry is in the next five years?
First, we see the future agency as a hybrid on-demand creative and marketing marketplace for SMBs, startups, and enterprise companies. It enables businesses of all sizes to effectively hire the world's best creatives, marketers, and executives within a structured, on-brand environment and on a project-by-project basis.
Secondly, we see scalability and organic growth becoming more attainable for startups and SMBs through a combination of machine learning and collaborative creative technologies that will support the production of on-brand assets in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Lastly, we see virtual reality and augmented reality making its biggest impact in the workplace in the coming years, especially in the creative industries. We will see the farewell of the traditional video conferences and project management solutions and enjoy a movement to a global, connected workforce utilizing virtual whiteboards, real-time virtual collaboration, and immersive experiences.
Digital marketing agencies are not the same as they were when they first originated. Over the years they have adapted to the changes needed to help businesses reach the maximum amount of their target audiences. These agencies make it so you can avoid having to learn everything yourself and constantly keep up with the trends.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to discuss this topic matter with CCG because after chatting with them it has become clear that the evolution of digital agencies is relevant for businesses. This is especially true for startups and SMBs.
Will you be utilizing a digital agency to help you take your business to the next level?