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Part 3: Rebuilding the Marketing and Advertising Industry

The global pandemic has created a time of uncertainty. The marketing and advertising industry has experienced vast economic strain on par with, if not more severe than, the Great Recession of 2008.

For all of the college students, recent grads, and members of the marketing and advertising industry who have reached out over the last several months curious where we think the industry is headed – this Where Do We Go From Here? series is for you.

Part 1 – A Brief History Lesson

Part 2 – The Current Climate of Marketing and Advertising in 2020

Part 3 – We will discuss how the marketing and advertising industry will rebuild.

Re-Imagine vs. Re-Build

In 2008, the Great Recession, led many agency owners to the realization that they needed to rebuild their teams and infrastructure to meet the needs of a project-based industry. The answer for many was to run leaner teams.

As 2020 comes to an end and positive vaccine news gives us hope, many agencies are once again being asked to evolve and meet the moment. How does an agency re-imagine their business to meet the challenges that 2021 will bring?

  • An economic climate where brands are seeking more for less.
  • A culture that champions brands that take a stand.
  • A consumer who sees their dollar as a way to make an impact on issues that matter to them – climate change, social justice, and politics.
  • An employee who is now clearer on what they value.


FTE vs. Freelance

Agencies will need to build a staffing model that is scalable by getting strategic about Full Time Employees (FTE) vs. Freelancers.

The first tier to address is agency leadership. Agencies no longer have the luxury of being top-heavy, every person on payroll needs to cover their salary and then some.

The second tier is sales or account services which typically comes down to those who own the business relationships. By keeping them FTE – you accomplish growth, consistency, and customer service. The key here is optimizing their time. Can you invest in technologies, outsourced services, or freelancers to ensure they are using their time efficiently on what matters – servicing clients and growing your business?

The final tier is execution. A couple of creatives and producers will be needed within each agency’s core competencies. These select FTE are essentially quality control and traffickers. They are great project and people managers who can identify the right freelance resource to complete the work while being able to effectively manage project workflow.

Physical space

The media has covered the cost efficiencies of working from home thoroughly throughout the year. The real opportunity here is to stop allowing physical space or leadership’s desire to keep tabs on people to dictate office layout and work schedules. Each individual works differently. Figuring out what is optimal for each individual and the overall team in creating the best work product at the best cost will be most beneficial for everyone.

Technology and outsourcing

There are everyday functions within an agency that stay relatively the same, yet we have not adopted technologies to automate or outsource these tasks overseas to create cost efficiencies. The back office and operations functions lend themselves best to leveraging technologies and oversee resources to minimize cost and create efficiencies.

2021 is quickly approaching with the end of the pandemic coming into view. It will be telling to see how agencies move forward, which agencies use this as an opportunity for evolution and which agencies try to hold onto the pre-pandemic past.