Artificial intelligence is going to disrupt a lot of marketing agencies in 2023.
Some will seize the opportunity and create enormous value for themselves and their clients, while many will be obsoleted.
These laggards won’t all die off overnight, but their relevance and value will quickly fade, and their clients (and people) will move on.
My former agency, PR 20/20 (now Ready North) was HubSpot's first partner back in 2007. I believed deeply in Dharmesh Shah, Brian Halligan and their vision, and I saw inbound marketing as the future.
HubSpot went on to build an incredible agency partner ecosystem that transformed thousands of agencies, created billions of dollars in value for their partners, and continues to drive massive growth for their customers.
AI presents a similar, but exponentially larger, opportunity (and threat) for agencies today.
The rate of change in professional services (not just agencies) will be profound. If I was running an agency today, I would focus on a few key areas: billing models, creativity, and innovation.
The first chapter of my 2012 book, The Marketing Agency Blueprint, was titled, "Eliminate Billable Hours." That has never been more important, or true, then today. Your agency has to use some form of value-based pricing (I created Point Pricing in 2014, which is one option) to survive.
For example, let's say you are charging $150/hour to create content. A 1,000 word blog post today may take 7 hours (or $1,050). That same blog post with ChatGPT, or any of a dozen AI writing tools, can probably be written, edited, optimized, and published (with AI-generated images) in under an hour. You can do the math. Billable hours are dead.
AI unlocks previously unimaginable creative possibilities in all forms of media, including audio, video, text, images and more. If your creative work isn't infused with AI tools, you will be at a significant competitive disadvantage.
With AI, the only limitation is your imagination. You must re-engineer what an agency is and does. This includes products and services. Anything is possible now.
If you own, lead or work for a marketing agency, make understanding and applying AI a top priority in Q1.
Don't wait for the agency world to get smarter around you. Our Piloting AI for Marketers Series is specifically designed to help any marketer understand and pilot artificial intelligence. Click below to learn more.
Paul Roetzer is founder and CEO of Marketing AI Institute. He is the author of Marketing Artificial Intelligence (Matt Holt Books, 2022) The Marketing Performance Blueprint (Wiley, 2014) and The Marketing Agency Blueprint (Wiley, 2012); and creator of the Marketing AI Conference (MAICON).