Collectives of the world, unite and take over

You can’t seem to go a week without hearing about how the big consultancies are disrupting advertising’s business model. When really, it’s a remix of the value extracting model of the holding companies, just on data-driven steroids.

The genuine disruption is at the other end of the market, with independent collectives and collaboratives.

Before launching Fromm, I wrote “The agency of the future is not an agency” as a kind of MVP to see if the market was ready for what I was cooking up. It has since had over 100k reads on LinkedIn, and that response was enough of a signal to me that the market was ready for a model like this. So Katie Graham and I launched Fromm and our collaborative network, CoCircle in May.

The piece struck a nerve that resonated globally and even recently helped inspire Dave Burg to launch Shepard in Austin and Portland.

A Movement

I can’t claim credit for this. I’m only calling attention to it. That something is afoot here. There is movement and direction, and a whole lot of momentum.

This CMO piece on how creative collectives are on the rise overseas is all over my feed, and Brown&Co co-founder, Troy Wade echoes my sentiments that:

“We believe that people are more productive and creative when they can work where, when, and how it suits them.” Troy Wade, Brown&Co CoFounder

Closer to home, I’ve been inspired by how well the newly launched content creators Jack Nimble are already doing so soon after launch. We’re lucky enough to be working with them as part of Fromm’s CoCircle network.

And I’m itching to see more of this here in Australia. Because when you work to this model, other players aren’t just competitors, they’re potential collaborators. It allows for a diversity of people and approaches that agencies simply aren’t flexible enough for.

Diversity

At Fromm we’ve been able to pull together and be a part of collectives that have worked on projects as diverse as integrated consumer campaigns, digital transformation, PR campaigns, always-on (yet always-good) content marketing strategies and product launches.

Each time the DNA of the team has been entirely different. It fosters genuine collaboration as opposed to the pseudo integration often foisted upon agencies and departments, where it’s all smiles in front of the client and a quiet war behind the scenes over budget to feed their oppressive P&L targets.

As the owner of the client relationship, it frees you up to be value-providing to your clients instead of self-serving. If you’ve just taken a content genius onto your payroll at $200k, you’re likely to steer a solution that way. Even if it’s unconscious bias that gets you there. With the collaborative model, you can be genuinely solutions and channel agnostic, find the optimum solution for your client, then curate the ideal project team from your network.

As a lead on my projects, I’ve been exposed to a whole new range of diverse perspectives and approaches. I also have access to the largest untapped talent pool in Australia.

Mums.

For many mums, agency or corporate jobs (even the supposed three day a week roles that end up being five days of work crammed into three) just aren’t workable. With the collective model, the mums I work with are in control of how much work they take on and have total freedom of when and where they do it.

As long as you’re willing to provide that (and don’t mind gurgling or crying bubs during conference calls), there is no talent shortage in this industry.

But most agencies are unwilling to provide that kind of flexibility. And none of the big consultancies are willing to be that disruptive, I assure you.

Community

The collaborative model allows you to build your business as a kind of community. You don’t hire people and fire people. You bring in people who are right, and you build something.

In an industry that has always prided itself in “the work comes first,” the people should come first with this model. The work that your doing, the things that you are doing, comes secondary. It’s a means to an end. An important means, mind, but it’s not the end.

You build a community, bring the right people in, and make sure your people are OK. And that includes your clients and doing right by them and the trust they put into you.

Sure, you probably won’t make millions with an exit to WPP or Accenture. But we all have agency, we’re getting paid well, and we all have balance in our lives. There’s a contentment there.

Join us

We’re looking to work with progressive brands that are part of the Aussie cultural fabric, that strive to have a positive impact on people and do things differently to ensure their business thrives. We’re also on the lookout for fellow collaborators to strengthen our growing CoCircle network.

If any of that interests you, contact us at Fromm and we can talk you through it over an excellent coffee.

Matt Kendall