As buyers of technology and media, our email and LinkedIn inboxes get inundated with messages from too many sales people, that typically don’t know our business. Email automation tools make it easy for inexperienced and unknowledgeable people to send thousands of messages to us annually. The problem this creates, aside from the clutter, is that we oftentimes miss the good stuff.
When I started working at an ad agency in 1996, sales reps were resources for buyers. They provided a wealth of data and studies that helped us prove to our clients that their advertising was working. Those same reps brought us opportunities to help our client accomplish their goals, and therefore our goals. Then, digital advertising was born. Sales reps didn’t know anymore than the buyers and the value exchange diminished. This improved over time, but with time came tools that scaled sales outreach to the point where it became too easy and cheap to spray and pray (prey). Today, buyers need to sift through their inboxes to find relevant emails but they really don’t have the time. Buyers are also managers and they need to focus on their business.
The acceleration of technology means managers need to optimize frequently to stay ahead of the competition. Expectations on buyers at agencies and brands are higher than ever, time is not a commodity. So how are buyers supposed to do their day jobs, stay on top of emerging trends, sift through hundreds of unwarranted messages daily, and evaluate potential solutions to address their business needs? Compound these questions with the fact that resources are slimmer than ever. Agencies need to do more with less and brands that in-house don’t have the additional resources to spare.
Buyers need a partner that listens to their needs and brings them vetted solutions, without having to read dozens of emails or take several hour long meetings each week. Lunch and learns are nice, but they consume 90 minutes each time and no one has that much time to spare with undivided attention. For large brands like P&G, Unilever, Ford, and Warner, innovation labs have been a resource of new tech for a very long time. These brands can send a representative to an innovation lab such as Plug and Play or TechStars and gain access to relevant emerging tech. Their buyers can rest easy knowing that someone is out there helping them stay ahead, but what about everyone else?
Enter a new wave of innovation lab that listens and curates based on the needs of its members. There are different flavors of this new model from consultants that embed themselves in an organization to ones that offer a Keiretsu type model where people come together to drive toward a common mission. Cogent is one that focuses on advertising and ecommerce. Through it’s trusted membership of tech buyers, Cogent is able to identify the greatest needs within the industry and then curate and vet solutions that can address those needs. These types of organizations shouldn’t be sending random emails or be making assumptions about your business. Their approach should be consultative and transparent. Their efforts should build trust over time and lead to better outcomes for your business. If you don’t have an innovation partner like Cogent, you should get one that fits your style and needs. There are different business models so surely you can find one that will work for you.
Some of the biggest industry challenges are being addressed by emerging tech companies and can help you get ahead. Are you struggling with cookie deprecation? Is Facebook wreaking havoc on your acquisition strategy? Are you finding it more and more difficult to gain attention? Is your ecommerce experience as good as an in-store experience? The list goes on so rather than let your head explode or burying it in the sand, find a partner…