Why The Digital Agency Business Model is Flawed!

Zeeshan Contractor
4 min readMar 12, 2023

The concept isn’t flawed, the business model is. An agency’s bread and butter is to make money through multiple clients while dedicating multiple clients to a single team. So a small team of 3 might possibly be catering to 3 different brands at the same time.
Let me say that again just to make sure you understand the gravity of the situation.
3 Executives!
3 Brands!

From strategy
to design
to execution
to revisions
and all the way
to publishing.

The human mind is not made to operate this way. It’s the rotten age old recipe to go mad, doubt yourself and ultimately fail at everything you do.
As a result, the brand suffers, the agency suffers, the employees suffer.
The brand is always finding reasons to hold the agency accountable for being uncreative.
The agency is always under pressure of getting fired.
And the employees are always horribly lost in translation.

You would argue that this is the only way for an agency to operate and make business sense, dedicating one single team to a single brand isn’t financially viable because the payouts for an agency are not high enough to justify the hiring of dedicated resources.
And even when the payouts are high enough, the agency is always under pressure to impress the client every single day of the year or face the risk of getting sacked.

And think about it, firing an agency is much easier than firing an employee.
More on this in another blog ;)

So the basic instinct for an agency is to push the team to do more and here’s when everything goes haywire with the output being uninspiring:
No solid planning.
No creative thinking
No one safe from burning out and getting grilled by the client and the agency alike.

Yearning for a brand’s digital success is not easy and by far one of the hardest things to accomplish if the brand is not as big as some of the most sought after brands in the world like Gucci or Nike and so on.

You gotta map out the strategy that lays out the plan to tackle the marketing brief, the creative brief, the consumer journey, the delegation of the brief, the creative execution, organic and paid deployment, the reporting, the analysis and the ultimate optimisation where the brain fires into numerous different directions in order to make sense of the current performance and the expected performance.

The worst part in all of this is the daily content that has to be published everyday and should look like something that came right out of Picasso’s sacred mind!

If following these steps was all black and white and could be done at the press of a button, the world would have been a very peaceful place to live in!

But the hard reality is the team is expected to be creative thinkers while making sure the execution gets done on time while being involved in numerous pointless meetings, juggling the mood of the client, all over the place approach of the boss and the dynamic nature of the teammates.

The creative and the logical mind altogether scream to be given some space to produce inspiring work that will affect the brand in the long run. But the brand wants a temporary dopamine hit that drives the lackluster work and the death of the motivation to give a damn about the brand.

How in the world a mind is supposed to think clearly in this nonsensical Mayhem?
It doesn’t!
It crashes!
It burns!
And does a horrible job at everything it touches including its ‘me’ time.

So does this mean that digital agencies shouldn’t exist?
Does this mean that brands should prep themselves to build in-house marketing departments instead of conveniently outsourcing them?
Does this mean that I’m crazy and just ranting out reality that we’ve been living through?

The business brain is programmed to understand the numbers game only and the people who are absolutely terrific at driving a story simply by looking at the numbers are pretty horrible at gauging how the human behavior works.

The human brain is not like AI, it can’t operate down to the final instructional dot “oh so” conveniently placed by the planners and the numbers department.

In order for the brands to successfully reduce in house cost of having a marketing department and an agency to successfully run a brand’s marketing while not being under constant pressure of getting judged, we have to understand just two vital things absolutely crucial to be successful at anything you do:

  • Focus on just one thing, that’s it!
  • Work like a team, nail it!

The people running the engine need time to think, desire the space to fail and want the luxury of being dedicated to a single thing to ensure they think about it all the time and become subconscious masters at it so that when their conscious brain takes over to actually do the job, they nail it!

A human mind is programmed to do something extremely well when it focuses just on that one thing. Day and night, it thinks about just that one domain, one brand!
That’s grandma’s recipe for setting up a team for success!

Will the brands understand this anytime soon? No!
Will the agencies take a note of this? No!
Is it worth telling this story again and again! Absolutely

Signing out,
This is Mr. Zeecon,
In the making of a great story!

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