About the Author: Jason Small is a digital marketer with 10+ years of digital experience working with 20+ brands via various agency roles. Small's expertise includes broad digital strategy, social media strategy, SEO, website design and development and he has led teams to produce results for brands online such as Peoples Choice Awards, ChapStick, Centrum, Dial, Honeywell, Renuzit, Castrol, Sears, Hertz, CoverGirl, John Deere, Advil, ThermaCare and more. As Director of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development for a fifty-person startup, Small led initiatives uniting value propositions and technology across 10+ companies while generating press in trades like TechCrunch and the Wall Street Journal.
Having been on both sides of the table (agency and startup) I know what it’s like to pitch agencies, and to be pitched by startups. There is a mutual feeling of making sure there is absolute and timely relevance to the discussion. If the startups proposed solution is lucky enough to be timely and can potentially plug in to the right client and/or campaign they also have to overcome the challenges of being reliable (stable) and cost-effective. When this perfect storm happens, it can be a beautiful thing – creating a win/win/win across the board for the agency, the startup and the brand. When it’s not a perfect storm, the entire process can be inefficient.
Thus, I’ve even heard some agencies with internal models that function like a startup within an agency. One such example coming from Eric Johnson (Ignited) at the Ad Age Digital Conference this year. A lot of his presentation addressed the ROI challenge of pitching new clients, but he also discussed how he does champion internal entrepreneurship in a startup-like mentality, here is a marginally useful Storify from Eric Johnson’s talk.
All of this to say that the current model of startups and agency relationships is extraordinarily inefficient when not managed accordingly, and perhaps there is opportunity for disruption or just an adjusted model that would help agencies vet startup vendors faster by pre-qualifying them based on existing opportunities already in motion and the stability of the startup.
Which side of these relationships are you sitting on? What have you done to make things more effective and painless for all parties involved? What can your counterpart do to help improve things for you?
By the way, before you ask – you can get the hat in the image here.
Social Media and the Big W
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