What if your digital creative agency sold 100 little digital experiences instead of 1 big website?
UPDATE: For instance, this would work like in a retainer relationship, the client agrees to pay $500,000 and the agency agrees to concept, design, develop, and launch 100 individual digital experiences (sites, apps, whatever) in 10 weeks.
Last Thursday I attended The One Show Creative unConference. I met some great people from some of the best digital creative agencies all over the country. Matt Anderson, from Struck Creative, lead a thought provoking discussion that helped me to answer to some questions I've been kicking around for a while:
- What should digital agencies do as fewer clients are interested in buying that big expensive flash site?
- How can digital agencies adapt to an environment where the appropriate tool for the job often means that the work can be done quickly and cheaply? (WordPress, anyone?)
- How can an agency increase their odds of creating a big hit when it's impossible to predict what's going to catch on?
Most digital agencies rely on selling the execution of a big beautiful, usually flash-based, website. The more complex the site is, the more expensive it is, and the better it is for the agency's business. But, the market for that business is disappearing.
I want to see a new digital agency model that sells a package of 100 small digital experiences, that can each be executed quickly and cheaply, instead of selling the 1 big digital experience.
Here's how I imagine it might work.
Rule 1: If it can't be done quickly and cheaply, it's not an option.
The agency should be structured in order to take 1 digital experience from concept to launch in 1 week for every 5 employees. If you have a 100 person agency, you should be launching 20 small digital experiences each week. Embrace the tools that will help you get it done.
Rule 2: Make a lot of pots.
Sean Howard told me this story, which I quoted when I wrote about the end of the microsite.
A ceramics professor comes in on the first day of class and divides the students into two sections. He tells one half of the class that their final grade will be based exclusively on the volume of their production; the more they make, the better their grade. The professor tells the other half of the class that they will be graded more traditionally, based solely on the quality of their best piece. At the end of the semester, the professor discovered that the students who were focused on making as many pots as possible also ended up creating the best pots, much better than the pots made by the students who spent all semester trying to create that one perfect pot.
Rule 3: Sell ideas, not things.
When this agency pitches clients, you don't pitch one big idea, you pitch the first 10 small ideas. You say these are the first 10 ideas we're going to build, and there are 90 more where that came from. For $500,000, we will concept and execute 100 ideas over
Rule 4: Everything launches, the client gets to buy the hits.
No one can predict which idea is going to become and internet sensation. And not every potential hit will get approved by the client's legal or PR department. These concerns don't matter because you're going to launch every good idea you come up with. Work for the client initially launches without the client's name attached. If it takes off and becomes a hit, they get to claim it. If they don't want it, the agency can either take it for themselves or kill it.
Rule 5: Phase 2 - Everything is iterative.
A tiny fraction of what you launch will be worth additional time and investment. Create strict qualifications for what makes the cut. Work on all of these select projects using an agile process, making small changes as you go. There's no finish line, there's just one improvement after another.
What do you think? Are you ready to go out and start this agency? I know of at least a couple people who would like to introduce you to some clients.
I'm sure there are lots of details I haven't considered. Please let me hear all about it in the comments.