Aug 3, 2009

Why We Need Marketing General Contractors

One of the most frustrating aspects of working in the agency business today is the client's insistence that the various agencies they've hired all figure out a way to work together without any sort of leadership or guidance. Or, even worse, being asked to work under the guidance of the client’s lead television and print agency, which is akin to letting the proverbial fox guard the hen house.
The solution here is simple. On paper, anyway: the client marketing department needs to serve as a general contractor. Or at the very least, hire one. The Marketing GC will be the one looking at the big picture and telling all the sub-contractors who does what and when. Assigning tasks and checking to make sure that the entire structure hangs together and looks like it came from the same place.
Because right now, the free-for-all is not working. It’s akin to hiring a plumber, an electrician, a mason and a carpenter and telling them you have $500,000 to build a house… what have you got for me?
So the plumber suggests golden faucets and the latest under floor hot water heating. The carpenter is all about teak cabinetry and Brazilian cherrywood floors. The mason is looking at antique Italian tiles and the electrician has an entire light show planned every time you enter a room.
Each has magically managed to come up with a plan that costs… $490,000. (Because it would be, you know, tacky, to charge the full $500K.)
And while the house has many impressive features, the sorts of things fellow plumbers, electricians and masons ooh and ahh at, nothing really hangs together and the house looks nothing like what the homeowner wanted.
Hence the general contractor. Whose role it will be to make sure that everything does indeed hang together. This may well be one of the new job functions of the digital age: a strategist with a strong marketing and financial background, who has a clear vision of what the final product should look like and what it costs to deliver it. Who’ll hire the best people for each job and make sure they work together and don’t overcharge or underdeliver.
The result will be an execution that looks and feels like it came from the same company. Something that we don’t see all that often these days.
Someone’s got to step up to the plate first though. Any takers?

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