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This year, agencies must become more ‘capsule collection’ and less ‘fast fashion’

By Ben Turner, Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Amplify

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The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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January 4, 2024 | 6 min read

Ben Turner of Wonder (part of the Amplify collective) is worried that agencies have become the throwaway fast fashion of the marketing world. They’ll thrive, he says, with a more bespoke approach.

Piles of clothes in an abandoned factory

How can agencies avoid becoming the fast fashion of the marketing world? / Clothing the Loop / Francois Le Nguyen via Unsplash

Agencies have become ‘fast-fashion’. Like brands selling identical clothes, agencies are vying for the same business. Everyone’s trying to offer everything. Clients respond by shopping around, trying to find the right fit. Agencies respond by pitching more and taking on more one-off projects with quick delivery timeframes and short-term goals.

We’re becoming low-cost items and embracing ‘throwaway culture’ just to stay on trend. We risk becoming like that zeitgeisty shirt worn only once.

So, where’s the opportunity to build long-term value or strong partnership? Where’s the brand commitment?

Let’s instead try a ‘capsule collection’ approach. How? By offering a curated and cohesive set of limited-edition items or services, typically centered around a specific theme or concept. By emphasizing quality over quantity, we can foster a sense of exclusivity and allow for strategic curation that resonates with a target audience in five key areas.

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1. Strategic curation

Like a fashion capsule collection that carefully curates a small set of pieces to convey a specific theme, could agencies would curate a selection of services by identifying key agency strengths, expertise and emerging trends, aligning them with client needs and market demands?

Basically, we need to be hyper-relevant specialists with expertise in a specific area – or masters of specific niches, offering clients a depth of knowledge and expertise. This will also encourage efficiency; streamlining your focus allows agencies to invest more time and energy into new emerging strategies.

2. Agility and adaptability

There is an increasing need for agencies to remain agile, responding quickly to changes in the industry and client preferences. Like a fashion capsule responding to seasonal shifts, the agency should adjust its collections to stay relevant, incorporating new technologies, design trends and communication strategies.

By offering a limited, curated selection of services, agencies can focus more on tailoring offerings to better meet the unique needs of each client. Moving away from a one-size-fits-all mentality, this client-centric approach fosters stronger and more personalized relationships.

3. Timelessness and trendiness

Balance classic marketing principles with innovative strategies. While it is important to be aware of evolution in the market, some staple pieces will serve you well year after year, and continued investment can position them as a cornerstone of your business. Timeless methods bring reliability, but trendy, cutting-edge approaches bring added creativity.

4. Collaboration and co-creation (or exclusive partnerships)

Just as designers collaborate to bring a capsule collection to life, a future-proof agency excels in collaboration and co-creation.

Cross-disciplinary teams within an agency working together can foster innovation and diverse perspectives. Meanwhile, collaborating with external partners and clients can bring fresh ideas and insights. Case in point: a recent collaboration saw Ryan Reynolds ‘donate’ an Aviation Gin ad spot to a flower shop in Wrexham (where he is the owner of the eponymous football club). The ad featured Reynolds in a Wrexham AFC branded jacket and countless bottles of Aviation Gin. It worked as a tongue-in-cheek collaboration that elevated a local florist.

5. Sustainability and ‘cleaner’ clients

In line with the emphasis on sustainability in capsule collections, all agencies need to reflect a commitment to ethical practices, looking at the brands they want to work with who either promote sustainable products or are committed to becoming more sustainable.

By focusing on these five key areas (strategic curation, adaptability, timeless trends, collaboration and sustainability) we can push the boundaries of what’s possible across business experiences. The capsule collection model can help agencies become more agile, client-focused, innovative… and futureproof.

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