Who do you go to when you need new tires for your car? Chances are you’ve got a “tire guy”. A mechanic or salesperson you trust to give you the product you want at a fair price. And if you don’t, you probably ask friends or family if they have a tire guy. If you’re in a new city without an established social network (a real world one, not its digital equivalent) then you may turn to a service like Yelp or Angie’s List for a recommendation. It’s the rare consumer who researches different tire brands, visits multiple retail locations, and really becomes an expert on tire manufacturing. Collaboration and word of mouth are our natural standards for sharing information and helping each other accomplish tasks (and purchase items) in fields where we don’t have a natural expertise.
Can you imagine this scenario? You decide you want to purchase tires. So you go to your purchasing agent, the person you keep on a monthly salary who handles all your buying needs. That person then writes up a document describing your needs and sends it off to twenty different tire shops around town. They all respond with documents of their own and your personal shopper narrows the candidates down to a short list of four or five. Your buyer then meets with all the salespeople from the shops on the short list and selects a winner. A short time later you finally receive your tires. Of course, your personal buyer has added a 30% charge to your bill, which he tells you is his manufacturing charge for his part in making the tires.
Of course, you complain and tell him that you know he didn’t have anything to do with the tires being made. He just picked the shop that you bought the tires from. But he tells you that this is just the way things are done in the personal buying business and that part of being a “full service” professional is the tire manufacturing and buying expertise he brings to the table.
How long would you keep using him?
Of course, that is what’s happening in the media and advertising industry on a daily basis. Traditional agencies routinely hire digital shops and production companies and charge their client a markup on their services. They claim to be full service but often times they are simply aggregating services. And even if they genuinely try to be full service, they can’t effectively recruit talent in the same way that specialized shops can. Guys who like tires like to work in tire shops and garages. Not Wal-Mart or Target.
Smart agencies are realizing that this “traditional” model is broken. They’re building their own networks of production houses, Flash developers, augmented reality shops, gaming specialists and much more. They realize that the “traditional” model is anything but. That, in fact, it’s actually counterintuitive to the way humans have conducted business for thousands of years. They also realize that the internet (the greatest collaboration tool ever invented) allows them (and their clients) to work with companies of any size or skill set anywhere in the world. It’s like they’ve got a tire guy down the block. But they’ve also got a brakes guy in Rio. And a wiper guy in Winnipeg.
As the recovering economy forces us to conduct business more efficiently and emerging technologies give us the tools to create new efficiencies, we’re rediscovering the basic way in which humans interact with each other to accomplish tasks. Collaboration.
How are you solving your company’s digital needs? Who’s your digital media guy?