Agencies need to start embracing people with across-the-board experience in advertising rather than siloed specialists to become sustainable argues Andrew Cornale.
Coming from a diverse digital background, I’ve been in a number of different agencies (creative, advertising and marketing) and have seen how they operate. Some experiences were good, some not so good but one thing that I picked up is that the industry is filled with so much bullshit, it’s unbelievable.
Quite often, I’ve attended meetings where strategists are arguing with UX designers who are competing with project managers in a game of buzzword bingo while the client is sitting at the end of the boardroom table with a confused look on their face. Egotistical hierarchies, cumbersome processes and oversized structures are seen too often in an industry that thinks it’s embracing digital but is still trying to grasp the concept.
I find it quite concerning that still in this day and age, hybrid talent isn’t embraced to it’s full extent. While I appreciate the need to hire a specialist in any field, why is it that managers are still “pigeonholing” staff into narrow roles?
Let’s think about a scenario real quick. A client walks into an agency and asks for a website. Traditionally, this is what would happen… First step, get a brief. Then, get a bunch of people in a room to discuss the work. More meetings go on, a bunch of scopes and paperwork get produced and then finally a proposal is presented along with a timeline that no one really understands.
All of this time, the people actually doing the work are sitting behind the scenes with no background information. So, the client signs the estimate and goes ahead, then the people actually creating the project are briefed in and the miscommunication begins. The client asks a question, gets an answer off someone who doesn’t actually understand it, is promised something and then delivered something different. There’s a huge misalignment.
Doesn’t it make more sense to cut the crap and just get the work done? Remove the hierarchy, reduce the layers and deliver the people doing the work directly to the client. Then, they produce the work, build a relationship and explain concepts without the confusion. We are often told that we need to do our job while everyone else does theirs, there’s little or no crossover. No. Ask questions, learn, design, code, dabble in UX and learn to communicate well. Hybrid talent creates an environment of skilled employees that know how to communicate clearly, resulting in quality outcomes. Simple.
I’ve sat in too many meetings, walking out frustrated and confused. I’ve seen first hand a client clearly ask for a Theme Forest template and someone has suggested that we hire a freelance specialist to provide the best user strategy. Wouldn’t it be handy if the designer working on the job was also a solid UX designer? Then, instead of six people logging hours on the job and paying for external resources, you’ve cut it down to two or three and there’s no need for a client lead because there’s really not that many people to deal with.
Or, what if you had a developer that could also lend a hand with design? You’d likely end up with a job that was actually profitable and a result that your client is happy with.
So, why is it that staff are still being hired in a digital world, put in a corner and told to make sure they log 8 billable hours every day? It’s ridiculous. “Senior” experience is required for roles where technology is only 12 months old and if you enjoy dabbling in different areas of the business, you can’t find the right job.
Hybrid talent should be embraced. Staff should be upskilled, cross skilled and encouraged to learn up to date skills. It results in less bullshit, better work and happier clients. Seems like a no brainer to me.
- Andrew Cornale is managing director of Impulse Digital