About 15 years ago (it’s really hard to believe it’s been that long!), social media became a thing, and many agency owners ran to be one of the first to offer social media services. I remember talking with a friend about how she was going to completely transition her PR firm into a social media firm and how shortsighted I thought that was. She did it anyway, did great for two years, struggled for a few more—and was fully out of business a decade later.
But we’re human beings, and we like to run to the shiny, new penny. We want to be the first ones there so we can reap the rewards of seemingly overnight success. We want to get rich fast, lose weight quickly, and run 26.2 miles without having to train.
Of course, that’s not how things work, but it’s human nature. We tend to see the “success” of people without understanding the sacrifices they made to get there.
The Death of Digital Pros
During the holidays, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about the death of digital agencies.
Titled “Will 2024 Mark the End of the Digital Agency?”, it essentially says that everything we do today is digital, so calling yourself a digital agency no longer matters. It’s not so wrong. It’s not really the end of the digital agency, but more the end of using that as a differentiation.
Chip Griffin and I also discuss a portion of it on the Agency Leadership podcast, so there is lots for you to consider.
I’d like to focus our conversation on how to incorporate generative AI and whatever else will come at us in the next 12-24 months without sacrificing your expertise or experience by turning everything upside down.
In other words, don’t chase after AI as the only service you offer. Rather, fold it into the work you’re already doing.
Shift from Services to Solutions
Here is what that might look like.
Forrester predicts that agencies and professionals alike will shift from services into solutions, which will include their human expertise and technology, such as generative AI. We’ll all learn how to incorporate technology to make us more efficient and effective. At the same time, we’ll also feel the pain of learning how to pair what we do with robots.
Last week, OpenAI announced that the ChatGPT store is now open, which means you can create your own version of the AI to do what you need it to do. For instance, I have a GiniGPT that is learning my voice, what I care about, and even my sarcasm. It’s currently like a toddler learning how to use their words, but eventually, it might be as effective as I am at pumping out content.
We also have different GPTs for clients, which include the company’s branding, fonts, colors, tone of voice, competitors, brand personas, messaging, and more. One of my favorite things to do right now is going into one of the GPTs we’re building for a client and prompt it to write copy for a specific persona, who is named.
To do this, we invested in customer interviews and used the transcripts to guide how we set up the GPT. This allows it to guide our content personalization efforts at a completely new level.
I can now say, “Please write an email for Jessica Roberts that will entice her to subscribe to our podcast.” And boom! Email written.
Is it perfect? Of course not. But it is a great starting point. I love it!
Stand Out From Your Competition
So, rather than saying, “We or I only focus on AI, and that’s why you should hire us/me!” you say, “We absolutely use AI to improve the work that we do and, in fact, can create a specific GPT to help us grow your brand.”
Instead of focusing on the service of AI, figure out how to incorporate it into the solutions you provide.
This will put you ahead of your competition, either on the agency side or when you’re gunning for a promotion or looking for a new job. Anyone who focuses on the digital side of what we do will face sameness and commoditization.
No one wants to look and sound like everyone else. Figure out how to use AI (and whatever else comes at us) to be different.
One Focused On Results
We’ve talked about how being a digital expert now makes you look like everyone else and how to focus on solutions versus services. Now let’s turn our attention to what executives truly care about when it comes to marketing and communications.
Oof. I know. I know. But we have to get there.
2024 is the year we go from service-focused to solutions-focused, and we, for once and for all, measure our work to things that are meaningful to the organization and its leaders.
I recently had an experience where we reported our year-end numbers to a client. It was a very good year. We were able to take credit for more than 150 sales qualified leads and nearly $3MM in pipeline. As well, the conversion rate for sales with leads geenarated by marketing is 45%, but only 23% when they are sales generated.
Pretty good results, right?
The CEO said, “This is great, but I don’t get it. How are you doing this?”
My assumption was he knew how marketing works and what we are doing to drive leads. I was wrong. He also was skeptical because we were reporting the numbers but not names. So I pulled up the document that lists all of the new customers that were generated by marketing, and he nearly pooped his pants!
The next part of the conversation was one I think we all would love to have. He said, “If we invest more in marketing, can you predict what kind of pipeline we can produce?”
I said we absolutely can and he and I crunched the numbers together.
Get Some Help
It was a glorious experience and one I wish upon all of you. I’m not saying you have to measure leads, pipeline, conversions, and revenue, but you DO have to measure the things that are meaningful to the organization.
As you evolve into a solutions-based professional who incorporates new technologies, such as generative AI, how can you measure that work to ensure you can have strategic conversations like the one I just outlined?
We just launched a new online course with Muck Rack. It’s the Fundamentals of Media Measurement, and for those of you who need to figure out how to measure your efforts to an organization’s goals, it’s perfect for you.
It’ll take you about two hours to complete and is designed to be quick, bite-sized lessons that you can listen to in the car, while you’re walking the dog, when you’re out for a run, or when you need a brain break for 10 minutes in between meetings.
The best part is it’s free.
Head over to Muck Rack to register and get started. Please make sure you use that link because, while I get no monetary benefit for you registering, I am highly competitive, and I want credit for it! Give me all the registrations!
Complete the Shift from Services Evolution
Whether or not the death of the digital agency is upon us or AI is not your jam or you’re nervous you’re going to be replaced by robots are all semantics.
What’s most important is you have the ability to deliver work that is meaningful to the organization.
If you carefully think about how to go from “we offer media relations or social media or AI services” to “we can help you grow your business by using today’s technology effectively and efficiently,” it won’t matter what the world throws at us. You will be ready.
Hang Out With Us
If you’d like to learn more about how to begin to evolve your career or agency this year and you’re not already a part of the Spin Sucks Community, get your butt over there!
It’s a community full of crazy, smart professionals. It’s free, fun, smart…and you might just learn a thing or two from your peers.