Some days there seems to be no way around it: inescapable urgency is a constant challenge for senior leaders who find themselves tending to "business as usual" when they need to focus on critical matters including innovation, current market trends and making the right investments in their creative technology stack. Granted, clients' immediate needs should be the top priority. But if an in-house agency (IHA) can't also service clients and partners by staying current and relevant--armed with needed capabilities and tools--the team's value is at risk.

To help creative leaders address potential gaps and opportunities for improvements, Cella's in-house industry experts recently spent a day and a half facilitating revealing discussions with them at the first (of two) inaugural In-House Agency Leadership Summits. Sharing tangible ideas and compelling data, our team of consultants described how leaders can future proof the way they run their agencies including where teams will need to grow their expertise in order to capitalize on advances such as new technology and biometrics, AI, blockchain, creative management platforms and idea labs.

A Few Highlights from the Chicago Summit:

Future Proofing

  • Most companies have multiple communication channels, but no SOPs or guidelines for how the channels should be used. This kind of misstep can potentially lead to lower work satisfaction and higher staff turnover.
  • Blockchain is no longer in future state. Media buying companies, insurers and warranty providers, stock markets and others already experience its benefits daily.

The Skinny on Agile

  • The best way for marketers to apply Agile is with a little "a"--adapting Agile principles that resonate with the team and applying them to the organization's needs (aka "the hybrid approach").
  • When hybridizing Agile, Cella recommends tiering projects based on their creative complexity and using the methodology that works the best for each tier.

Change by Number

  • Change management must be proactive and people centric. If they don't receive clear, consistent communication, teams affected by the change are unlikely to embrace it.
  • Assemble and leverage a coalition of people who understand the change and have a stake in making it happen.
  • In addition to the WIFM (what's in it for me), the core driver of change should be that it's more dangerous to not change and evolve than it is to maintain the status quo.

Creative Stack - The Missing Link

  • When designing or expanding the creative technology stack, spend time on due diligence and implement strategically.
  • Use industry experts to support the integration and utilization of your creative stack.
  • Ensure that the necessary IT resources are willing and available to provide early support and help executing the technology.

What's Next for In-House and External Agencies

  • Creating an in-house agency that provides balanced capabilities--specifically as it relates to project tiering--is critical to longevity and providing consistent value to the organization.
  • The IHA's role will expand to include functions that fall under the Marketing umbrella or that have previously been outsourced (media buying, social).
  • Therefore, strengthening ties and cooperation, beyond the agency's immediate scope, should be on every in-house agency leader's priority list.

Cella's consulting team was delighted and gratified by the feedback provided by our first annual Leadership Summit participants. They embraced information enthusiastically, contributed thoughtful observations and valuable questions to the detailed Q&A session, and had a great time networking with their peers in the industry. If you missed the event in Chicago, Cella is hosting another session in San Francisco on January 28th and 29th. We'd love to see you there.