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  • Writer's pictureRachel Baines

"But Chat GPT could do it for free": Unpacking the value of agency work in the era of AI

An AI generated image of someone working for an agency

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is almost old hat these days. If we're honest, we're all sick of hearing and talking about it, even if we're still having fun playing with it. However, the implications of AI on agency work and client expectations have become a hot topic. A common query that many of our clients have encountered from their clients is;

"With AI streamlining processes, why doesn’t this translate to lower costs for agency services?"

It's a valid question that opens up a broader conversation about agencies' value in an AI-enhanced world. Our recent Agency Marketing Benchmark Report highlighted a key aspect of this conversation. 67% of agencies are not actively discussing AI and its impact on their content. The silence on such a transformative topic underscores a real missed opportunity for agencies to build transparency and understanding with clients about the true value of their work.

The silence around AI

The lack of conversation around AI among agencies is notable, especially considering its increasing role in our industry. This silence may contribute to misconceptions about AI's role in marketing, particularly the view that AI should inherently reduce the cost of agency services. As our findings suggest, the reality is that while AI can enhance efficiency, it also enables agencies to deliver higher quality, more innovative, and strategically complex solutions. This critical point seems lost in translation due to insufficient communication on the subject.

At Chime, we're advocates for the use of AI. Still, we know many agencies find answering this question challenging, so here's how we think you can effectively and transparently communicate your worth in an AI-enhanced world.

The misconception of AI as a cost-cutting tool

The arrival of AI in agency work has undoubtedly streamlined certain tasks, from data analysis to content creation. However, equating AI's efficiency with a reduction in costs overlooks the substantial value that agencies provide beyond mere execution!

AI tools are facilitators, not replacements, for the strategic thinking, creative ideation, and deep industry insights that agencies offer. These elements are where the true value of agency work lies.

Communicating Value Beyond Efficiency

Agencies need to articulate clearly that integrating AI doesn't diminish their work's value but amplifies their ability to deliver more innovative, targeted, and effective marketing solutions. Here are several key points agencies can emphasise to clients:

  1. Quality and innovation over speed: While AI can expedite certain processes, the heart of agency work lies in crafting bespoke strategies and creative concepts that resonate with target audiences. Execution speed should not be confused with the core value of creative and strategic output, which benefits from but is not replaced by AI.

  2. Complex problem-solving: Agencies tackle multifaceted marketing challenges that require human insight, intuition, and experience. AI aids in providing data-driven insights, but interpreting these insights and crafting cohesive strategies that align with business goals requires a level of understanding and nuance that only seasoned professionals can offer.

  3. Strategic depth: Emphasise the strategic depth that agencies bring to their projects. AI tools can manage tasks but don't possess the foresight and strategic thinking necessary to navigate the complexities of market dynamics, consumer behaviour, and brand positioning.

  4. Value of creativity: Creativity remains an inherently human trait. While AI can generate content, it cannot produce original, emotionally resonant creative work that stems from deep understanding and empathy with human experiences.

Bridging the Gap with Transparency

Addressing the gap in communication about AI can play a significant role in shifting client perceptions about the value of agency work.

  1. Demystifying AI: By openly discussing how AI is used in agency processes, agencies can demystify the technology for clients, moving the conversation from cost-saving to value-adding.

  2. Highlighting human expertise: Agencies can use content to highlight the indispensable role of human creativity and strategic insight in leveraging AI tools effectively, reinforcing the idea that AI complements rather than replaces human expertise.

  3. Educating on AI’s benefits: Develop content explaining how AI tools are used in agency processes, their benefits, and why these tools enhance rather than reduce the value provided.

  4. Showcasing AI success stories: Showcase examples where the integration of AI into agency work has led to superior outcomes, emphasising the human oversight and strategic direction that made these outcomes possible.

  5. Client workshops: Offer workshops or sessions that delve into the intricacies of AI in marketing, helping clients understand the technological landscape and how it complements the strategic and creative services agencies offer.

The findings from our benchmark report call for a shift in how agencies communicate about AI. By proactively discussing AI's role and impact, agencies can educate clients on why investments in AI-powered marketing strategies lead to greater, not lesser, value. This conversation is essential for dispelling myths about AI and cost and highlighting the strategic, creative, and technological depth agencies bring to the table.

As agencies, our challenge — and opportunity — is to articulate this value clearly and compellingly. By doing so, we justify our pricing in an AI-enhanced world and reinforce our indispensable role as strategic partners to our clients in navigating the digital future.

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