Your In-House Agency Can Escape the “Commodity Trap” by Becoming Trusted Advisors

When the marketing organization and key stakeholders view their in-house agency as task-oriented order-takers, it creates the commodity trap – a cycle where uninspired assignments increasingly create uninspired results.  When people are treated like a commodity, they often begin to think like one.  As a result, in-house teams are denied a seat at the table, and the chance to contribute in a more thoughtful (and strategic) way.

As these mistaken beliefs become self-reinforcing, IHA team members lack growth opportunities, leading to increased turnover.  The greater tragedy is that the organization fails to tap into the true and deeper talents of its employees, resulting in lost opportunities and value all around.

It is a mindset problem.  In many ways IHAs do too little to get out of the commodity trap…despite their being a wealth of simple shifts that will make them a better partner.  In our work with over 190 marketers and agencies, we’ve seen that some of the simplest things can be incredibly effective:

Find the unasked questions.  Move away from simply taking and executing a task as it has been assigned. Instead, demonstrate curiosity, the desire to learn, and the willingness to own the challenge. Relentlessly drive to the unasked questions that often lead to a deeper understanding of the strategic objectives and the root purpose of the project. Enroll your whole team in this to grow their talents as well.

Invest in going beyond their “Ask.”  Do the work, but also deliver new ideas and approaches that can achieve objectives with greater speed and success. This technique is used by the most successful agencies – it is called “forward investment” - show that you can deliver, but also that you can take them farther.  You don’t need to do this all the time but doing it sometimes will change the dialog.

Help them create internal alignment. Misalignment between marketing and other internal stakeholders is rampant and often slows work, burns budgets, and reduces work quality. When IHA teams take the lead in driving greater alignment between brand, product, and the production teams, rework rates, surprises and last-minute changes of direction begin to disappear. Demonstrate your leadership by bringing together all team members and stakeholders in an environment where collaboration and alignment become part of the culture.

Agencies that master these skills change perceptions and become seen as trusted partners. Their organizations benefit from enhanced productivity, a better work product executed more efficiently, and a happier workforce.

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Transform your marketing organization or in-house agency into a true Agile Collaborative Marketing Organization, an Agile CMO.


Reduce chaos, boost performance, and engage better with internal stakeholders and external agencies using our proven Agile-inspired operating models and methods.

Run Your In-House Agency Like The Best Agency

Can in-house agencies benefit from using Agile? The answer is yes. Agile for Marketing, when done well, changes the game of marketing, and the dynamics of the organization. You may have listened to the Podcast by our clients at Insperity, where they explain how learning our brand of high-performance Agile brought their marketing services organization into a leadership position within the organization. We're now happy to present the actual case study.

Why should Agile matter to marketing? Because the marketing function is one of the most chaotic functions in any organization. Agile was designed to solve a chaos problem — not the same one, but Agile can be adapted to fit the bill. We’ve seen a lot of feckless Agile in marketing organizations…people going through “Agile motions” without a lot of results.



Schedule time to learn what you can accomplish in our workshops.  We look forward to speaking with you!