Indie Traction re-emphasizes client service in a bid to rewrite what it means to be a media agency

Logic would dictate that if you, a media agency, just had a client or clients move some of their work in-house, you’d probably not need a client services head, right?

Traction, an independent that’s tried to reorganize itself away from traditional agency structures to one that serves clients however they need it, did just that back in 2019. Founder Adam Kleinberg opted to eliminate a client services head as he positioned the agency to become what he dubbed a “marketing accelerator,” a collective of liquid workforce talent that can be tapped on an as-need basis, rather than FTEs.

Kleinberg has since realized that client services remains an essential function as clients came to Traction for specific needs. To help address this, two years ago, he brought in Lauren Evans, a veteran marketer with experience at Royal Caribbean and Lululemon, to navigate the complexity and challenges within client companies.

Evans has also delivered on winning new business, having landed LinkedIn Marketing Solutions as a client when she came aboard Traction. She said she understands what’s needed out of an agency from the client’s perspective. “I understand how their P&L works, I’ve sat in their seats, I’ve hired the agencies, I know what it feels like to need to spend the budget by the end of the quarter or here’s how it’s amortized — just all those little things that are involved with a large organization and a complex matrix,” explained Evans.

Herewith, a startup elder care provider, needed exactly that kind of expertise to get up and running. 

“In my experience, when evaluating marketing agencies to do the heavy lifting for product launch, many startups start scrabbling through agencies like Tinder, looking for big names that look great,” said Khurram Khan, Herewith’s COO. “Meeting with Lauren and the Traction Team … they understood our vision right off the bat.”

Khan said his team set hard lead generation KPIs (without revealing the exact threshold) for Traction, which the agency exceeded in a quarter. “The Traction team is highly focused on learning and working with us to articulate complex ideas with such simplicity that they resonate with the audience.”

Kleinberg said Evans’ ability convey marketing-side thinking is a superpower, as was evidenced in a recent pitch call with a billion-dollar consumer durables company he declined to identify. 

“For us to be able to get on a phone call with the CEO and Lauren be able to exchange a deep understanding of the retail business, and talk about not just marketing but shipping and all these different things — we’re becoming as much a consultancy,” said Kleinberg. “Lauren was talking retail with her [the CEO] in ways that I can’t.”

But it’s the flexibility, which is part of Kleinberg’s vision as a market accelerator, that’s made the difference to Herewith’s Khan. “Traction eliminates the inflexibility of a typical marketing agency; instead, they offer an experienced team that works with you and keeps you honest by using data that helps you make the right decisions.”

https://digiday.com/?p=536219

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