The myth about agencies training themselves



2015 has been an unprecedented year of media agency reviews–the list of companies who reevaluated their ad spend reads like a who’s who of the deep pocket set– Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Coca-Cola, SC Johnson, and L’Oréal to name just a few. Ad Age estimated more than $17 billion up was for grabs and even christened the cataclysm with its own moniker– “Mediapolooza.”

It’s logical to conclude from this trend that brands are expecting more from their agency partners, especially with regards to technology. Thorough, up-to-date comprehension of the rapidly evolving digital marketing landscape has become absolutely crucial for any agency looking to grow their business.

To address this, many agencies have approached the need to quickly upskill by relying on their own digital experts to educate the rest of the team through formal training sessions, on-the-job guidance, and reverse mentoring programs. However, it is a myth among agencies that they can tackle this new need alone.

There are two big problems with leveraging internal talent to educate agency marketers:

1. Your digital marketing veterans’ time is extremely valuable for…doing their job!

Educating other people takes up an enormous amount of non-billable time. On average, our team puts in about 150 hours of prep and design for a one-day (8-hour) workshop. This includes all the time spent scoping a training, conducting interviews with stakeholders, writing learning objectives, and designing engaging workshop experiences. Few and far between are the full-time digital marketers capable of bearing such a burden. By partnering with a vendor, you can outsource most of the time commitment and keep your internal SMEs’ input limited to the interviews and content feedback that will ensure the class is contextualized and relevant.

2. Your digital marketing veterans are experts in their craft, but they are probably not experts in designing and delivering training to their colleagues.

A lot goes into designing a high-quality corporate training. To start, it requires interviews with program participants and stakeholders to discover the exact objective of the training–it is not always what was originally anticipated. Agencies who handle their own training often miss this crucial step and waste time heading down the wrong road before backtracking to realign. Secondly, corporate training’s terrible reputation is evidence that it requires thoughtful instructional design. At GA, our teaching model is to pair practitioner-experts from our network with our instructional designers from our staff. This combination results in cutting-edge and interactive sessions with takeaways that your team can actually apply to their work. Lastly, getting all the right people into the right place at the right time is a job unto itself. An external partner has the experience in getting from A to Z and will make sure your training efforts don’t get stopped dead in the water.

To both increase the quality of digital education and decrease the time spent creating it, agencies should consider looking externally before committing to self-designed efforts.

Read our white paper “The Truth About 21st Century Marketing Talent” to learn more about the myths that hold back the development of digital skills among agency marketing talent.