The key to future-proofing agency business

During the fourth edition of AgencyCon, experts delved into the live stage to explore the concept of future-proofing agency business. Here's a glimpse of the discussion.

Hiya Rupreja
New Update
Future Proofing Agency Business

In an ever-evolving industry landscape, the concept of future-proofing agency business has become increasingly vital. As markets shift and consumer behaviour evolves, agencies must adapt and innovate to remain competitive and resilient in the long term. 

During the fourth edition of Social Samosa’s AgencyCon, a panel of experts shared their thoughts on 'Future-Proofing Agency Business', offering invaluable insights and sparking interest among advertising, marketing and media professionals. Here's a snippet from the panel discussion:

The members of the panel included:  

Is our business in trouble? 

“I wouldn't say we are under trouble very specifically because at least in the digital space we know that the opportunities have finally come of age. But are we under pressure and has the pressure changed? Yes, totally,” said Chaya Baradhwaaj.

Being among the first ones to start in the digital arena, Bharadhwaaj reflected on the initial landscape where they faced competition from just five agencies, operating within a small market and limited client budgets.

Fast forward to the present day, with around 7000 agencies in the digital sphere, she notes the varied growth trajectories, with some surpassing BC Web Wise in size while others remain smaller. With tech companies and publishing companies getting direct deals, the dynamic has changed so much that reinventing oneself is of utmost importance, according to her.  

“Young companies and agencies are actually doing quite well,” mentioned Suneil Chawla, having met one of the founders of a small agency with four to five crores in revenue and 60% gross margins on their business. “I think the agencies in the 15-50 crore revenue are in deeper trouble. You need to cross the 10 billion dollar path again to be in a stable place again.” 

"I definitely don't think we’re in trouble," said Pooja Manek. She believed that we often forget that at the centre of all of it lies creativity and the one single differentiator is still creative excellence, especially in this day and age when we’ve been talking about the different advances of technology.

As long as one believes in themselves to deliver creative excellence, none of this is going to matter in the longer scale, she added. 

“I think advertising is the only thing that can bring some semblance back,” said Abhik Santara. He believes that creativity is going to take precedence and storytelling is going to come back. “There is no better time to be in advertising than now,” he commented. 

While he believes that uncertainty is slightly overrated, he thinks that one should evolve rather than get worried about that uncertainty. “Creativity is the best way to tame and leverage even the little bit of uncertainty that is lurking around in the world," Santara added. 

“If you love it, it’s never in trouble. If you don’t, it's always in trouble,” said Suraja Kishore answering the above-asked question. He believes there are two kinds of people in this business, the first who are in it for creativity while the others who are in creative business. Suraja added, “As long as you’re in creative business, you’re not in trouble." 

He does believe that marketing is in trouble.

Importance of creativity 

“As long as creativity exists, even a 2-minute 50-second video will see the light at the end of the day,” said Manek. She thinks people join advertising to have the most creative path in their careers. 

Countering what Manek said, Baradhwaaj believes, “You might have 4.5-star reviews with good feedback on your Amazon page but even that one negative review can make you lose 50,000 customers.” This is where she believes the market dynamics have changed with digital initiatives gaining prominence. 

Moving further, Suraja Kishore had the opinion that creativity is very little spoken about these days. “We have thrived, survived and created value for big brands,” he elaborated. 

While Chawla from Social Beat added, “I think as an industry, we are not able to demonstrate significant value addition where we can continue charging a premium." 

Following Chawla's response, Anil Nair, the session chair, posed another question to the panellists. He asked them if they believed that as an industry they were being remunerated fairly. 

“We have commoditized creativity,” said Santara. He believes that startup agencies have been giving out the products but are unable to monetize them. 

In contrast, Bharadhwaaj mentioned that at BC Web Wise, they faced challenges in marketing themselves, leading to the "man-hours trap." Unfortunately, in the digital business realm, they're also benchmarked against pure tech agencies, exacerbating the issue of man hours.

Agreeing with Bharadhwaaj, Kishore said, “Marketing is procurement and procurement is marketing." 

Retaining great talent

“Instead of focusing on the fear of losing, the focus should be on winning, according to Manek. The motto they follow at ‘Talented’ is, “The safest place to fail is the easiest place to succeed.” 

While Suraja Kishore mentioned that he would ask the young audience for advice instead of giving them some advice. Kishore also emphasised that whatever path they choose in life, they should not join companies but should join people.

“Choose a group of people to work with and you will never fail,” said Kishore.  

Whereas, Santara of Atom Network advised the young audience, saying that if they don't love creativity, don't join advertising. Meanwhile, Chawla suggested they stay open and learn along the way. Bharadhwaaj recommended agencies hire only those individuals whose values align with their own in order to have a good culture within the company.

Anil Nair concluded the session by saying, “Advertising is the sixth pillar of democracy. Every great country needs great advertising." 

We'd like to thank all our partners for supporting this endeavour: 

  • Checkout Partner - Simpl
  • Live Streaming Partner - 24Frames
  • Beverage Partner - Sonnets by Tata Coffee  
  • Beauty Partner - Just Herbs 
  • Entertainment Partner - Times Prime 
Suneil Chawla Agency Business anil nair Chaaya Baradhwaaj Pooja Manek Suraja Kishore Abhik Santara