This weekend, The Brand Chef traded in the ‘ol toque blanche for something closer to a mortarboard. I just returned form a weekend seminar hosted by The Agency Management Roundtable on the workings and strategic approach to building an interactive agency. As promised, (via Twitter) I wanted to give everyone a sweeping update of how it went.

Considering I was somewhat disconnected (my hotel didn’t have working wireless), I found the seminars to be greatly reassuring and informative all at once. There were things that we discussed that, thankfully, are already being done. And then there were things that opened my eyes to huge potential for agencies and for our clients.

Here is a quick list of 10 Takeaways from the weekend (as outlined in the seminar overview):

1. Become an avid user of interactive: Generally a given, but if you use interactive to further educate yourself and stay up-to-date on emerging technologies and social tools; you’ll be even more prepared to strategize those ideas into profits for you and your clients.

2. Realize that online initiatives DO build brands: With interactive and social media growth, as marketers, we have less and less control of our (and our clients’) brands from day-to-day. Identify ways that your agency can become “Brand Stewards” for your clients.

3. Create a dedicated Interactive department – no matter how limited: Whether that’s simply assigning one person to become “Interactive Strategist,” you need to commit the staff and the time. Evaluate, promote, hire – however you approach it, make sure that person is right for the job.

4. Take the first step – test an interactive marketing plan on a past/current client: Once you have the resources to back up the plan, present it with confidence.

5. Pick from the “low hanging fruit” a project that sets the ball in motion: Create a “limited” interactive plan for a client to fit within a campaign you’re already executing. Build experience and confidence with baby steps.

6. Rethink your Public Relations department: PR professionals have a huge opportunity to utilize the social media landscape. Use blogs, etc. to spread the story.

7. Rethink your Media department: Traditional media (T.V., Radio, Print) can (and should) be augmented with online advertising. And don’t fall into the “banner ad” rut. Innovate your solutions with sponsorships, contextual advertising, etc.

8. Stop pricing what you don’t know: Create a process for interactive. Don’t just package “a Website” and sell it to anyone. There’s a LOT of money being left on the table if you don’t plan, work through a system and strategically build from the ground up. psssst… Brand your process…

9. Set up a standard for measuring your interactive initiatives: Basically, you need to prove what you’re providing garners results. That measurement can be as basic as Google Analytics or something more complex. But don’t just measure clicks or impressions… make a call-to-action that’s trackable… then report and change to improve.

10. If budget is a concern, partner-up: So you may not be able to build the perfect Interactive department today? The answer can be as simple as partnering with the right person(s). Be litigious, be wise, be the advocate for your clients’ brands. And watch them grow.

Basically, what I learned from this weekend was interactive media is a force. If, as an agency / company / individual, you don’t embrace what change is happening, you’re going to be left behind.

“If you don’t like changes, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”
General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

Let’s move this conversation forward. Are you ready to embrace interactive? Or have you just been sticking your toe into the water (or worse – head in the sand)? Has your agency / company taken interactive to the next level (whatever that level may be)? Because, after all, isn’t conversation interactive?

Thanks to SiteWire for the information and their fantastic presentation.

Keep Cooking!
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef

  1. Andrew,

    So you got to hang out with my good friends Dave Wood and John Gumas. I couldn’t get away that weekend or else we could have been DSM agency buddies down there.

    I’ve been a part of one of Dave’s network groups for almost 10 years now

    Glad you found it valuable!


  2. Hi Drew –

    Yeah, that was my first introduction to Dave and AMR, but I was really impressed with the seminars and the partners Dave brought to the table. I look forward to more.

    Thanks for stopping by the kitchen!

    Keep Cooking!