When Gutenberg invented his printing press, it took him three to five years to produce his first run of 180 bibles. Modern marketers and creatives don't have the luxury of time. (Audiences aren't as easily impressed with first editions anymore, either.) In the digital age, you have to act fast and learn even more quickly. Once artisans of the trade, creative agencies now struggle to keep up with the pace—hindering rather than empowering clients.
In the next six months, one in three brands will fire their creative agency of record. At the same time, less than half of marketers would recommend their current agency to a friend. (Ouch!)
What changed? Pretty much everything.
At one time, agencies were the pinnacle of the advertising and creative industry, where all the best creative talent flocked and the marketing dollars flowed. However, this was also when paper was still in use and broadcast television was a thing.
Then, digital marketing came along. Instead of print, broadcast and outdoor, marketing campaigns now span an infinite range of channels from social and display to streaming and beyond—in addition to conventional media.
Not only do you have to be everywhere all at once—you also have to act faster than ever.
You don’t have weeks or months, in some cases, you only have days or hours. Focusing only on one part of the problem and doing things one at a time are distant memories.
While traditional creative agencies struggle to adapt, growth-oriented marketers and creatives are tapping into the Creative-as-a-Service (CaaS) model to power a non-stop supply of growth-building creative.
The truth is agencies just aren't working well for scaling creative and enabling growth. To show how agencies compare to CaaS as a vehicle for seizing market opportunities, let’s do a little scorecard to see which one is more:
"Agencies don't have it in their mandates to learn a lot of your processes. What my team and I want is to create our systems and then plug everyone in—rather than buy into an agency's model of 'This is the way we do things.'"
Agencies tend to limit their creative acumen to a specialized range of services traditionally applied to “big idea” projects or creative capabilities that most brands don’t or didn’t have in-house.
Due to this model, they work project-by-project, and with the nature of pitch-based work, they want to own the entire process from start to finish. Inward-facing, agencies also rely heavily on localized talent. Even within multi-national agencies, each branch is its own island.
CaaS leverages online tools and a global workforce, representing top talent from around the world, to provide a comprehensive range of always-on creative services and global perspectives. This versatility lets clients action a wide range of marketing and creative projects from simple to complex and production to conceptual.
A CaaS provider, like Superside, can also step into a project at any stage and is uniquely suited to high-volume and velocity needs, such as programmatic performance marketing campaigns with multiple variations, experimentation and optimizations. In fact, Superside produces digital assets up to 70 times faster than traditional agencies.
Speaking with other leaders, we found that many teams felt shackled or chained down by rigid agency models and perspectives.
"Using agencies isn't even on the table for us. It comes down to efficiency and price. It's efficient working with a CaaS solution, like Superside, that takes things and runs with them. Agency models can't keep up with our pace because they get so entrenched it takes weeks for things to get done."
While many agencies think that brands are leaving because of budget cuts, the brands themselves are saying it’s actually because agencies aren’t strategic enough.
As brands continue to build their own in-house marketing and creative teams, this talent is often coming from the agencies themselves. And, again, with agencies often focusing on only one piece of the marketing puzzle, there’s not much room for an integrated approach or to pivot as needed.
CaaS solutions center on the fundamental truth that the ability to scale creative is what lets brands seize growth opportunities. In the digital era. getting to market quickly with standout campaigns is what matters most.
CaaS lets different teams work in different ways depending on the services and expertise they need whether it’s conceptual, production or a mix of both. Allowing for the repurposing and versioning of assets, CaaS also lets marketers and creatives do more with less—maximizing value while minimizing costs.
Superside client Brio was able to scale quickly and capture market share in the chaotic early days of the pandemic.
Creative agencies bill using a retainer model that’s always been a bit of a black box of cache and overhead costs. Furthermore, use-it-or-lose-it retainer pricing doesn’t allow for ebbs and flows, such as seasonal peaks and valleys or expected and unexpected market changes. In the instances pivots or changes are required, additional fees almost always apply.
CaaS offers transparent, predictable subscription-based creative and design services. Choose the plan that includes the range of services you require and the number of hours you expect to use each month.
If there’s a month when you don’t use all your hours, you can roll them over to the next month. You can use your hours for any of the capabilities in your plan and, If you need quick turnarounds, you can dedicate up to 50% of your hours toward these projects.
Efficient CaaS models, like Superside—where the creative talent spends 100% of their time applying their talents to your projects—help reduce production costs by up to 50% when compared to agencies.
"Superside came in as our design partner. They have not only elevated our brand through design and strategy, they've also brought efficiency and scale to our process."
Creative agencies fail when it comes to scale. Because of their focus on internal processes and a narrow scope of services, agencies excel at individual projects. They can do what they do well time and again.
They just can’t do anything else other than that—which doesn’t really work well within a modern matrix of digital channels and tactics. You can give them some work, such as a branding or launch campaign, but you can’t give them a request for 100 different landing pages without a seriously uncomfortable conversation and lots of handwringing—and you’ll always need to supplement with other solutions.
Created in response to the shortfalls of the agency model, CaaS is purpose-built to allow for a range of creative requests, so that your product team can leverage video and motion while the brand team can get some foundational design templates and your growth team can test, optimize and experiment across any number of channels.
CaaS didn’t just reinvent the wheel—it’s become the best way to eliminate the pain of constant reinvention.
"In my experience with agencies, you spend a lot of time doing RFPs and and pulling together some creative strategic discussions for a specific project, but there's rarely ongoing support, such as the production of ongoing assets, beyond that initial investment."
Agencies make it easier for you to do your job by giving you some of the creative you need when you need it. But, should you change anything about this arrangement, progress comes to an abrupt, mind-numbing halt. Unless you’re the client with the largest retainer, you’re not on the same team and will likely have to take a number.
CaaS lets all teams—marketing, creative and beyond—access a full range of creative capabilities. Acting as an extension of your business, dedicated creative project managers learn your company’s brand and each team’s processes so that requests become as simple as entering them into our online platform and setting a due date.
In the race to get to market faster, make the most of every marketing dollar you spend and maximize campaign performance there's only one model that'll help you lap the competition—CaaS. Superside has helped define this solution and we're proud to be a best-in-class partner for ambitious brands, like Brio, Challenger, Clari, Curative, Reddit, Salesforce, Shopify and more.
Michelle enjoys learning from and empowering ambitious marketers and creatives focused on scaling design and fueling growth.🚀 With more than two decades of experience, she’s worked at both agencies and in-house teams at companies of all sizes in the United States and Canada. She began her career as an advertising copywriter, remastering these skills as a content marketer and becoming a subject matter expert on everything from frozen pies and financial statements to SaaS and now CaaS. Connect with her on LinkedIn.