In 2011, a study was released by The McKinsey Global Institute, which set the blogosphere on fire. After months and years of bad news about downsizing and flat growth, it seems we had finally hit the bottom. How? Well, somewhere along the way we had unknowingly created a situation in which there was a skills shortage – as McKinsey called it, we had a ‘dearth’ of skilled expertise.  You see, even though our economy was shrinking, technology and big data kept growing, and this growth was now threatening to outpace our ability and know how. The McKinsey analysts stated that:

There will be a shortage of talent necessary for organizations to take advantage of big data. By 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.

This was the Tipping Point. It was a wakeup call. We could finally begin to see that growth was occurring, and in fact, as far as technology was concerned, it had never really stopped. And that’s where we find ourselves now — at the convergence of big data, analytics and personalization, with limited technical resources and desire outpacing capability.  And, wow, is it a great time to be a marketing agency!

Clients want the bells and whistles, but lack the skills

Let’s face it, one of the challenges of technology is the learning curve. Marketing Automation is no exception. For MA to be a real, measurable, quantifiable success, you need to leverage all of the capabilities of the platform. You need someone with indigenous knowledge – knowledge about the product, the process, the resources, the content and the strategy of campaigns and outreach.  The challenge is that without that experience a full  “85% of marketers still use marketing automation for batch email campaigns”. And yet, conversely, according to the same Gleanster Study, “the top five capabilities Top Performers can’t live without include: Segmentation, Drip and Trigger Marketing, Campaign Design / Personalization, CRM Integration, and Sales Alerts (via Email and CRM).” Now how can this be?  We want the capability we just don’t have the internal experience. And this is where the agency partner comes in.
According to a recent Society of Digital Agencies report:

  • 28% of agencies stated that in 2013 they are increasing their client education initiatives and training offerings
  • 44% of agencies are offering mini-lectures to their clients and 25% are offering webinars for technology training purposes

And clients aren’t just selecting one special agency to help them out, SoDA states that 31% of its recent survey respondents say their clients use 3 or more agencies to solve their digital challenges, a percentage that is likely to rise as more and more clients increase the number of highly specialized digital agencies on their roster.”

No skills shortage at Agencies

That’s right, brands, businesses, products and services are turning to their agencies to train their staff, develop and incubate product ideas and provide embedded specialized resources at client offices – now known as ‘in-sourcing’.

  • In fact, in 2013, of the 800+ agencies SoDa surveyed, 1 in 5 had an agency employee embedded on their client site

Agencies have seen the writing on the wall. For the past several years many savvy agencies have been augmenting their creative chops with cross-over capabilities such as Creative Technologists (a blend between developer and creative director), Project Managers and marketers that are specialized in analytics. And, in the office environment, agencies have been creating product incubators as a method to attract top talent and spark ideas, and let’s face it, it’s fun to work at a place with a manifesto, or your own personal sensei, or yoga in the park.
So besides refrigerators stocked full of SmartWater, what is it about an agency that makes them magnets for top talent? Why are they perfectly suited to provide resources, technology and content for the emerging Marketing Automation services area? Well, let me tell you.
Here’s a list of the top 26 reasons why a company should choose an agency to implement their marketing automation platform.

    1. Improve time to market
    2. Fully realize platform usability
    3. Metrics, measurements, analysis, ROI
    4. Competitive advantage
    5. Supply of skilled workers
    6. New resources/fresh resources
    7. Attrition/turnover threshold optimized
    8. Sustainable staffing models
    9. Effectively train internal resources
    10. Defined qualification process
    11. Clearly defined expectations
    12. Mentorship moments
    13. Creative Process
    14. Improve employee satisfaction/opportunity for learning
    15. Specialization in social, digital, interactive
    16. Dynamic positions/dynamic job description
    17. Project-based billing
    18. Brand fidelity
    19. Just-in-time vs. just-in-case vs. just-for-now
    20. Neutralize short employee lifecycle
    21. Minimize market unpredictability
    22. Negate job-hopping (revolving door)
    23. Ability to react to downsizing and looming recession
    24. Agility in changing business priorities
    25. Counterbalance a reorganization
    26. Simplify merger and acquisition resource model

So agencies, what do you think? Did we miss anything? Let us know some of the fantastic reasons why the best bet for Marketing Automation success is to use an agency, and maybe we can grow this list to 1,000!

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