Since I posted this piece on O-Combinator, Ogilvy’s startup intro service, I have had a number of discussions with incredulous parties wondering “But won’t the start-ups steal your clients?”
I’ve been thinking and talking about this with peers as it’s a perplexing question, but one I think that’s far more of perception than reality;
As a percentage of startups, there are in fact very few that marketing agencies are actually competing with; who actually provide marketing consultancy and who create marketing materials and campaigns.
In reality there are a LOT more with whom we compete for our clients’ budgets but that’s because they make and do things that our client now need. Things that we as agencies just aren’t set up to do; develop, evolve and support marketing infrastructure.
Unless agencies are going to head down the road of creating broad usage marketing tech, then in reality we’re not competing with them head to head, just side by side.
When we hold the O-Combinator sessions I ask the participating startups to tell us what brands they are working with and invariably they are working with some of Ogilvy’s clients and taking money from their marketing budgets. But they are not doing what we do.
Looking at Startups as competitors just blinds agencies from the increasing need for them to be brand guardians, strategic partners and trusted advisors. We can not be any of these if we are not wholeheartedly reviewing, introducing and making use of the innovative marketing tech that the startup ecosystem provides.