The future of agency value
At the beginning of 2018, Rawnet unveiled a new proposition and brand promise. It’s the result of a great deal of reflection, both internally, at who we are, and externally, at the world around us.
Evolution is a funny thing, as there isn’t a defined end goal. There’s no final design to evolve into. And much like natural evolution, brand evolution over a long enough time period is nothing more than a series of changes, each independently taken without any master plan of where things may end up.
Rawnet today is the result of putting more energy into the work we’re good at, more focus on the work we have the best chance of winning, and therefore spending less energy on the not so enjoyable work, the work we’re likely to be undercut on, the commoditised world of digital.
This is Agency Darwinism at its best. We’re surviving and thriving in an evermore competitive and saturated marketplace.
The stage is unrecognisable from the one we stepped out onto over 10 years ago. The value an agency brings to the world has shifted from tactical to strategic. There’s no value, and therefore money, in being purely tactical, it’s a race to the bottom fighting over price to win a client who will never see you as anything more than a lowly supplier.
To be relevant in 2018, to thrive, an agency needs to do what can’t be done by in-house teams. The agency of 2018 must offer insights that make an immediate commercial impact, it must bring a wealth of knowledge from field experience across all sectors and it must offer a new perspective. In some cases, the agency may reinvent a client’s business so it too remains relevant as the world’s rate of technical progression drives consumer expectations to uncharted and previously unimaginable levels. What’s more, the rate of change will never again be as slow as it is right now.
Our proposition is frankly everything we’re f*cking great at
We’ve distilled it into 4 pillars. These 4 pillars are evident in every successful project and award win over the past few years but we’d never successfully articulated them as our services. Previously our services were rolled into rather bland, unimaginative and ambiguous outdated headings such as Digital Strategy. Bleugh.
The four pillars
The first pillar, Value Proposition Design. What we’re continually being asked to do, usually as part of a digital overhaul or transformation project, is to get a client’s proposition nailed. What are they offering to the world? Why would a customer care? Why is that different from the competition? Our value proposition workshops are often the catalyst to huge pivots in what a company understands about itself.
Our second pillar, Product and Service Development. We concluded that we don’t really make websites any more. All of our best projects are the creation of a new service or digital product for a client, a new revenue stream, an enhancement to the customer experience - anything that made our client more successful because we made it easier for their customers to do business with them.
The third pillar, Bespoke Business Applications, is the actual creative and technical build. Our heritage. This is key. We’re not the ‘proposition consultancy’ with a website full of Post-it note encrusted walls, who theorise the impossible only to kick over the fence to a development agency to execute. Crucially, we also do the execution.
This is where, traditionally, it all goes wrong. Define strategies all you want, but if the designers and developers tasked with realising the vision aren’t bought in from the outset, aren’t part of the holistic process, then that vision gets lost in translation and falls flat on its face.
The Agency 3.0 mindset means everyone involved in the project is more than just their job title. Our PMs are strategically minded, our creatives think like business analysts and our UX team hold their own in a financial conversation with the CEO. This magic fails to materialise when clients separate the thinking from the doing across two companies. Build is our heritage, we make amazing products - and no way are we stepping solely into the consultancy space. We’re the agency the industry wants to exist. A consultancy that knows what they’re doing when it comes to technical execution.
And lastly, our fourth pillar, Growth and Commercial Strategy. You don’t ask the property developer who built the house to clean the windows every month. They’d probably do it if paid enough, but that’s a waste of money. That’s why we realised our ‘maintenance’ retainers struggled to offer real value aside from convenience. Our ongoing growth and commercial strategy retainers work alongside the nuts and bolts of technical maintenance to give our clients a slice of our strategic bandwidth for an ‘always on’ strategic department who are driven to prove ROI and make the real difference long term.
Behind all these pillars, we identified that our projects are responsible for Commercial Advancement, at some level, for our clients. We theorised that all companies follow a journey from startup to industry leader, and it looks a bit like this:
Commercial Advancement at the Heart
As our logo suggests, at the heart of every project we undertake is the drive to push Commercial Advancement. We don’t do stand-alone campaigns. We don’t create short-lived or short-sighted strategies, we’re here to work with you on your organisation’s journey.
All of our projects start at one point, and end at another. Be that Idea to Launch, or Optimising an existing business so that it becomes the Industry Leader. We don’t create short-lived or short-sighted strategies.
We help to push our clients along this journey. Together.
So, in summary, that’s quite a journey from web designers, to digital strategists, through to who we are today. I’ve loved every second of it, and I’m really pleased we took the time to reflect on who we are, to put some of our own methodology and tools to the test and redefine our window to the world. Initial reactions have been positive, client meetings flow easier now we can articulate what we care about, close rates are increasing, and older clients who used to see us a ‘the web guys’, are opening up to engage us on a more meaningful and strategic partnership.