Consulgency : The New Era of Servicing Model

How CMOs Can Benefit From the T-Shaped Marketeers


6 December 2021

3 minutes



For quite some time, agencies have followed a very operations driven team structure. Generally, agency roles are divided into three pillars:

  1. Client leadership team - which includes client servicing, strategy, project management etc. Sometimes they also act as planners.
  2. Service operations team - this team makes sure that the planned campaign gets delivered. It could be media, creative/content, tech, and data etc.
  3. Business operations team - which is a team making sure that there are enough people (HR), there is money flowing in and out in a timely manner, and to keep the books clear (Finance), the team has a place they can comfortably work at (Admin), and some others (I’ve oversimplified these roles, take it with a pinch of salt)

In most cases, the focus was always to sell operational services like media buying, creative production, reporting etc. However, to make sure the company stays profitable, you need to sell enough operational services to cover the cost of all the headcount in the 3 pillars mentioned above, and more.

At clients' end, the roles used to be generally defined within three pillars as well. Product, Marketing, and Sales. This was a more traditional structure, but with digitization most brands have either moved to agile and dynamic structures, or are planning to. With this change, the current agency model also became archaic and is in dire need for change.

So what should be the focus of agencies in the future?

The answer is in the new wave of M&A, where management consultancies are acquiring more and more agencies across the world. With the market and customers becoming more and more unpredictable, there is a need for brands to have someone help them navigate this new shift. Here are some of the reasons why agencies should focus more on consulting the clients than selling operations services.

  1. In-housing of operations by most brands - In-housing is a relatively recent phenomenon, where clients have started hiring their own operations team to run their campaigns. There have been ongoing debates around  pros and cons of getting an in-house team versus outsourcing it to the agencies. Will put our point of view in a future article, but let’s assume it’s happening (even though the pandemic slowed it down). Some agencies are worried about it, but one should look at it as an opportunity to focus on helping clients hire, train, and retain these in-house talents
  2. Remote working - Covid has forced everyone to try out remote working and making it a norm. Now that we know how to make it work, the operations could be outsourced to specialists globally instead of relying on hiring them in local countries. The ops could be directed by local strategy and consultancy teams
  3. Lines are getting blurry between product, sales, and marketing - Which means most CMOs are accountable not only for marketing KPIs but also for sales, and improving the product by focusing on feedback. This is becoming a challenge for CMOs because they need to juggle between marketing and technology consultancies. And with a wide scope of marketing and technology, agencies need to focus on solving problems instead of planning for channels
  4. Specialist versus generalist thinking - An idea is as good as the execution of it, and execution alone won’t lead you anywhere if there is nowhere to go. Which means we need more generalists (Strategy people) to have at least one key specialisation to think of both sides - idea and execution. This new model is called a T-Shaped Marketer. In a nutshell, the idea is to have at least one specialization, while having a broad understanding of everything that goes on in marketing. These are the type of consultants needed by agencies, who are jack of all trades but master of at least one.

To sum it up, consultancy is the future for agencies, but specialization is also emerging as a high demand service. With so many moving parts within organizations, and new business branches sprouting every year, is it better to focus on a few than having your fingers in multiple pies? Think about it like this, about 10 years ago, digital marketing used to be a skill. But can you still claim that a single person can do everything involved in digital marketing and be efficient at the same time? Same goes for anything that we do in the marketing world, where not a single person can do all when it comes to delivering digital solutions across multiple industries.


Want to know more about Future Proofing? Schedule a chat with us today.

© REISE Digital 2021
HQ Offices Axiata Tower,
Level 18, No. 9, Kuala Lumpur