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The team arrived from New York: 7 individuals, bags in hand, a cross-section of leadership representing the core functional capabilities of the agency.

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Among the synonyms for fake you’ll find: artificial, cheat, fraudulent, false, charlatan, feign, counterfeit, phony, pretend and deception. If you take the time to pull back the covers off brand activism, you’ll find what is essentially the definition of fake. Oh yes, I’ll be the first to admit that there are “purpose built” brands that are activist / causal and that they live up to their promise. Among these brands you’ll find REI, The North Face, Bombas, Tom’s, Ben and Jerry’s, etc. …

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Agencies and management consultancies were the “force” of change in the late 90’s through the early ‘00’s, representing the “source” of innovation and the next generation of knowledge. Companies sought out organizations that could help reimagine business models, build new channels, specifically digital, implement complex technologies and drive organizational change. From start-up’s to the largest corporations, engaging the capabilities and experience of companies such as MarchFIRST, iXL, Scient, Lante, Organic,, Razorfish, Sapient, etc., where a new breed of talent and capability resided, was viewed as being tantamount to success. …

Let’s be honest— the world of digital and advertising “agencies” is replete with inconsistency.

The adage, “If you try to be all things to all people…,” is appropriately applicable to the world of advertising and digital agencies.

Having spent my entire career solving complex client challenges, the one I’ve been most frustrated with and unable to solve for exists within the industry that I’ve worked within for the past 2+ decades. The challenge itself is simple; yet, the desire / willingness to solve for it is an enormous impediment.

Let’s dig in a bit. There’s a historical context that frames…

It’s time for change. Breaking what’s broken.

The agency and management consulting industries spend enormous amounts of energy responding to RFPs. So, how did we get here? It’s actually quite simple. It’s a flawed approach based on the premise that “free” thinking will be provided by companies with the “hope” that they will be selected and ultimately, awarded a contract. Let’s openly discuss the dirty little secrets of the RFP process. This will get interesting.

The RFP — Behind the Scenes

With 2 decades of experience, I can speak with authority on the challenges with RFPs. First, most RFPs are based on an internal perspective of…

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This article, a few decades in the making, is about the end of the process vs. the beginning. So, if you’re interested in an “insider” view of the sell-side and buy-side of M&A, there’s quite a bit here if you want to learn how to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid many of the challenges.

Let’s start by acknowledging that there are tens of thousands of articles you can read that are from the investment bank (ibank), tax / audit and M&A practices of the global consulting firms and boutique / bespoke firms. The insights I’m writing about are…

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There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s break it down. The insights include:

  • Where the opportunities lie.
  • The Backstory: The death by incrementalism.
  • The “sea of sameness.”
  • So many “tech” platforms, so little differentiation.
  • AdTech over experience — What the #$&^!
  • Let’s build the future together.

Where the opportunities lie.

Where do we go from here? Let’s start with “and now for the rest of the story”thanks to Paul Harvey. We’re at another inflection point in the maturing of what we consider to be “digital.” As we bifurcate what digital actually is into discrete experiences and channels such as voice, customer engagement, in-store…

There’s an entire industry that operates under a broken thesis — Customer Relationship Management (CRM). The reality is quite simple. The term CRM infers a company can manage your perspective, your engagement and your preferences / biases. In truth, CRM is an unsophisticated, Neanderthal, knuckle dragging approach to getting you to buy more or remain “loyal” to a brand. Let’s be clear, people don’t want:

  • To be “managed”
  • A relationship that’s all about the other entity — think about that for a moment
  • To be seen exclusively through the lens of lifetime value (LTV)

The amount of data created each…

We really don’t care about you.

The term “broken” is a kind way of saying the relationship between brands and customers is fundamentally screwed up. Marketing spend as a percentage of total investment is heavily skewed to acquisition, not retention. Many companies version of the lifetime value model (LTV) is measured through attrition and net conversion vs. retention. Solving for this issue should be paramount for companies; but unfortunately, marketing has an addiction. New customers have a tendency to be more attractive or “interesting” than existing customers. Let’s look at the data before delving deeper. Typically, acquiring a new customer…

Insights from the front line.

Here’s a glimpse into this article — for those that want the SparkNotes™ version.

  • A Partnership vs. Other Structures — The benefits and the challenges.
  • Financing the Business — Early stage capital, burn rates and expectations.
  • The Market Opportunity — “Narrow is the path.”
  • Surviving Due Diligence — The process is expensive and daunting, but…
  • Post Acquisition — What’s next?
  • The End Result — Positive or Negative?

A Partnership vs. Other Structures

When we began the journey of building a management advisory for CMO’s focused on the complexity of business transformation in the digital age, each of the four co-founders brought a unique set of…

Bob Morris

Founder, Bravery Group; Co-Founder, Trade (Acquired by ICF Next), #Strategy, #digitaltransformation #CX, #designthinking

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