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Why Ad Agencies Should Think More Like Consultancies – and How Dovetail Already Does

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There has been a recent trend in both the marketing and consulting world of crossing borders. Traditional consulting firms are buying up creative shops and agencies are adding consultative services and data-driven insights formerly reserved for the likes of Accenture and Deloitte. What’s going on here?

As we continue to evolve as humans, consumers and marketers, our marketing has to evolve as well. The conventional wisdom of saying a product’s name three times in one ad or that a consumer needs to hear a message three times to recall it is no longer enough. In North America, we see an estimated 5000+ ads each day – three is nothing in comparison. Marketing messages need to do three things to merely be recalled: deliver a message to the right person, at the right time, in the right place. And then they need to do yet another to be successful: they need to resonate.

Data provided by consultants can deliver the first three items easily. It’s the fourth part that requires creativity to be successful. The data shows you who your audience is, where they are, when they are consuming what medium. Then the creative agency takes the wheel to deliver a message that resonates with the target, in a way to which only humans can relate.

At Dovetail, we blend business strategy with branding strategy to solve business challenges. This often transcends the practice of marketing, and we help our clients make decisions that impact operations, culture and even product development.


Here are a few things we do to act more like consultants…


1. We integrate ourselves into our clients’ cultures.

One of the advantages of being an outside agency is perspective, but to really take on a consultative approach, you must immerse yourself and/or team into the client’s culture. We proposed everything from a week-long “boot camp” on-site in the client’s office, to going to conferences and on sales calls to meet our clients’ customers. Finding out what it is like to be a member of their team and codifying that information for our team helps us to work better together, and bring usable and actionable ideas to the table.


2. We remember the power of the outside opinion.

Consultants sometimes report back findings that someone on the client side already knows, and has maybe even expressed. However, the consultant is seen as the one who solved the problem, even if they weren’t the first to suggest the solution. There is a psychological phenomenon known as outsider influence, which allows agencies to say things that either the client can’t say or that the client has said before but haven’t truly been considered. We encourage our clients to use us in this way – and have been successful in making an impact.


3. We tap into the information our clients already have.

Clients have a wealth of information at their disposal – sometimes so much so that they’re overwhelmed and can’t figure out where to start. We try to take that off their hands and start working our way through everything. Additionally, we’re not afraid to ask the seemingly obvious questions. Clients often think some of what they know isn’t relevant, when in fact, it can be the key to unlocking valuable insights.


4. We emphasize the importance of data, but are honest about its limitations.

Without research, we’re just making an educated guess. Research leads to insights and insights are what spark creative magic. At the same time, everyone is drowning in information that doesn’t mean much without context. And an overabundance of data can be overwhelming to both our client and to our team, possibly leading everyone down the wrong road. We regularly review the available information, aim to zero in on what will make the biggest impact, and then do a targeted deep dive.


5. We use our experience with other businesses to ensure client success.

At the end of the day, Dovetailers are both strategic and creative. We understand social media and day parts and GRPs, but we also understand how businesses work. Why people make decisions. What prevents them from being successful. What keeps them up at night. Our intimate understanding of not only how people tick, but how businesses (which are ultimately made up of people) tick allows us to step back and analyze a problem that we’ve seen before, or assess a roadblock we’ve successfully maneuvered with another client. This is our inherent value to our clients.


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Is your business data accurate and reliable? Are you making the most of the insights it can provide? Contact Dovetail for a complimentary consultation on your top three marketing questions. We’ll help you make sense of it all.

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