Building New Ad Agency Capabilities Quickly and Inexpensively


Are you looking to add new capabilities to your agency roster? Are you are finding that it is proving to be too costly to build or buy a separate dedicated group with a specific new capability? The answer to your problem may well be a…Virtual Special Team (VST)!

The groups of eclectic individuals, who make up an agency team, normally possess a broad and diverse set of individual skills and experiences. Quite often when they are hired, it is for a particular skill or for a particular client position.  For example an outstanding client service director who has years of experience in the wireless category, may be hired to work on financial client primarily because of their client service skills. In this case, certainly not because of their wireless category experience.

This can result in an agency actually having significant experience in a certain category/segment when you consider the combined capability of all the staff. The reality however, is that it is currently dissipated across the agency and all the other client accounts. This is where the VST approach can be very useful.

The fundamental structure of a Virtual Special Team is as follows:

  • A group of individuals who have a common set of expertise. Whether by category, target segment, or channel/technology etc.
  • One or maximum two individuals within the agency with leadership responsibility for the VST.
  •  The agency leverages both current client experience/work in the category, as well as the past experience of the special team members. The focus is on the collective brains trust that exists by bringing together this group.
  • The team members continue in their current roles, and come together as needed when the VST is assembled. Current client responsibilities of VST members are temporarily shared or supported by freelance help.
  • The team is supported by specific PR, speaking engagements, whitepapers, capabilities materials, micro site within agency website etc.

An excellent example of this approach made its appearance a few years ago. Leo Burnett launched a VST called “KidLeo”. (I think I have the spelling right). According to reports from both inside and outside the company, this approach turned out to be very successful.

Whether its retail marketing, automotive, marketing to over 50’s, or marketing to women, you can often launch your agency capability and get some traction for a very small investment. Think about the possibility of using a Virtual Special Teams approach.


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