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Creative Agencies vs. Consultancies

It’s the yin/yang, right-brain/left-brain, chocolate/peanut butter debate many in the marketing industry have year after year. Which is more important: data or creativity?

Marketing consultancies traffic in hard facts about customer habits. Agencies focus on the more artistic side of the equation—creative ideas and execution. Of course, the truth is that each element is meaningless without the other. Hard data that can’t be turned into targeted, compelling consumer messaging—or, conversely, creative that doesn’t address who customers are and what they want—misses the mark.

A recent article in AdAge explores how, as technology has become more proficient at tracking consumer data, consultancies are in a perfect position to add creative services to their client offerings—many of them have a higher budget than agencies, as well as the data and strategic savvy to understand that it’s needed. Ad agencies, on the other hand, have struggled to accomplish the reverse—to add business strategy and technology to their business model.

So, how can ad agencies add that right-brain component to their toolbox? The key is prioritizing data, business strategy and marketing technology enough to put their money where their mouths are. At St. Gregory Group, for instance, we’ve built a team with a mix of business and marketing expertise, who know how to collect and analyze data that informs the creative side of the business.

For today's agencies, it's really a do-or-die situation: Staff up and budget to get existing staff’s skill sets up to speed, or face obsolescence. This can mean rearranging resources and investing less in traditional outlets that are becoming less effective as marketing continues to evolve.

More than anything else, agencies need to cultivate curiosity among their staff. Unquenchable curiosity about new platforms and technologies as they develop, as well as eager interest in understanding and improving the consumer’s experience.

The agency with the capacity to provide the right message and the tools to drive it to the right recipient will survive and thrive in this new environment.