Being a Mobile Expert Isn’t Good Enough—Rethinking the Agency Approach
August 17, 2012
When we started Dark Matter, Inc. we did so under the maxim that focus mattered – do one thing and do it well. We not only decided to focus exclusively on the mobile channel, but on providing strategic services for the mobile channel to leading brand marketers and their agencies. The approach was quickly validated. Over the following years it became clear that companies and brands were no longer interested in marketing generalists with a mobile campaign or two under their belt, they were looking for bona fide mobile experts. We expanded our offering in 2011, adding social media and branding expertise to our portfolio of services, as clients began asking us to apply the same type of expertise we had proven in mobile to other marketing disciplines. Now we’re seeing yet another shift in the marketplace. A shift that has caused our company not only to expand its offerings, but pivot the business model entirely. We’d like to share our observations.
Over the past 12 months, our most successful projects have been contingent upon two things: applied expertise in a marketing discipline and a comprehensive understanding of the business sector. Simply being an expert in mobile or social media is table stakes and merely claiming expertise in a particular sector is indefensible. Companies now seek experts at the intersection of mobile and financial services; digital branding and retail; social media and consumer packaged goods (CPG). In fact, it is not uncommon for us to field a phone call from a client looking for mobile experts whom are not only well versed in Financial Services, but have a solid understanding of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and marketing to institutional investors. In short, clients are looking for hyper-expertise.
This shift in the marketplace has forced us, and many like us to revaluate our original business plan, a not uncommon exercise for any company. After careful examination we’ve determined that the best way to satisfy our clients’ needs is to offer a long tail of marketing expertise across many disciplines, rather than simply provide a core set of services within just one. Pivoting the business model in this way allows us to fill an epic need in the marketplace; the ability to pair unique marketing challenges with equally unique marketing experts.
Dark Matter is now home to a select group of elite marketing specialists, experts in both marketing discipline and business sector alike. While the focus is still on providing strategic services, we have expanded into other marketing disciplines including: Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM), Digital Branding, Customer Intelligence, User Experience and Data Visualization. These marketing experts are scattered across the country, residing in Seattle, Boulder, New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Rather than invest capital recruiting people to a centralized geography, we found it more prudent to move the company to where the talent is, as a virtual company is no longer a barrier for most clients.
Dark Matter’s new model is hardly revolutionary. In fact, it underscores the trend of decentralized talent bases. Over the past five years, some of the most talented marketing professionals have left traditional jobs in favor of consulting and project based work. There are now 9,305,000 self-employed workers in the U.S. workforce, a number projected to grow more than 2x over the next 5 years (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2012). These skilled individuals are formalizing communities of trusted colleagues and hyper-specialists that rapidly form teams for specific projects, then disband just as quickly. It’s what the Harvard Business Review calls “Supertemps”. It’s what Peter Drucker calls “Intellectual capital on demand”. It’s what we call the Dark Matter. Want to learn more about our experiences, give us a call.