Questions For The Agency Executive

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by: David Armano

Many of the senior folks who work at a variety of agencies (design, advertising, PR,—take your pick) are actually digital immigrants vs. digital natives.  This means folks like myself (30-somethings) knew what life was like before the digital revolution.  Digital natives, however have grown up with digital technologies from birth—some have never seen a tape cassette.

In the "1.0" days of the internet for the true believers—it was unthinkable for someone on your team to have never made an online purchase, or performed a transaction online such as banking.  So, here's some food for thought:
Imagine it's the year 2000 and you ask the executive creative director from your agency—the same agency responsible for the re-design of your transactional site, if he/she purchases online regularly.  The answer surprises you when they say that they although they like the idea of making a purchase online, they have security concerns and prefer to do their shopping in the real world.

Sounds silly I know.  Now fast-forward seven years.  What kinds of answers would you get if you asked these questions of your agency execs?

1. Do you read blogs.  Which ones?
2. Do you have a personal blog?  What's it about?
3. Do you participate in at least one social network?  Which one?
4. Have you ever uploaded a video online?  What did you use to do it?
5. What's your favorite search engine.  Why?
6. Have you ever used an online classified service like craigslist?
7. Besides making phone calls—how else do you use your mobile phone?
8. Have you ever registered a domain name?
9. Do you use social bookmarks or tagging?
10. Do you use a feed reader of some sort?  Which one?  Why?

Now think about these questions.  What are you looking for in the answers?  You are looking for empathy.  You are looking for a sense of understanding that only comes with experiencing something for yourself.  You are looking for honesty and authenticity.  And you are looking for credibility.  It's not important to have done everything in this list—but it's critical to have done SOME of it.

Nowadays it's near impossible to have a discussion around a brand, marketing, or design strategy without considering the latest wave of how people are using "digital".  Emerging technologies are nearly always part of the equation—and the equation shifts like the desert sands.  And digital isn't even an option—it's mandatory.   So the next time you are in a meeting, a brainstorm, or ideation session from the senior folks at your agency.  Think about questions like these.  How would they answer—and what would the answers tell you about what they really know?

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