MAKING A CHANGE: “Why We Pivoted to a Consultancy Model”

Thu 17 Mar 2022 11:00 am UK Time

• The agency world is an incredibly over-commoditised space…
• …but just what can you do to set yourselves apart from the rest?
• For Simon and David at Curated Digital, the most logical step was to pivot to a consultancy model.

Simon and David were already offering far more than ‘just agency services’ and moving to a consultancy model seemed the right fit.

Simon Douglass was worried his agency didn’t stand out.

“We realised that the agency market is a very over-commoditised one,” he says. “How could we distinguish ourselves within that? We’re still an agency, we still do agency things, but we wanted to be a bit more grown up – and charge more money.”

In March 2020, Curated Digital pivoted to a consultancy model.

“We were already doing strategic roadmaps, vision, identifying trends and changes in industry, and putting them in a pitch deck,” says chief strategy officer, David Angus

“It’s stuff that we charge for now that we might have lumped in before. It’s taken us to a whole new sphere.”

By doing this, they can change their entire approach to their work.

“Being a more explorative team is really key to what we do, looking beyond just pulling levers in a PPC account or running a new social media account. It’s about the wires, the dynamics, the customer behind it, the messaging,” says Simon Douglass, Curated’s chair and founder.

“We’re future proofing our chances with remaining long-term partners, and we’re also adding a lot more value.”

They also now have wider scope to work with other businesses.

“Because of our positioning, we can bring others in on projects. It allows us to do that rather than outsourcing something and not knowing who’s doing it – we can actually collaborate,” says Simon.

However, pivoting to a consultancy model hasn’t been the easiest shift, especially for some of the team.

“I think we thought, naively, that it would be an easy change,” says Simon. “It’s been hard to get the message across and get them to think differently about how they sell our services – we class them as products now.”

This has meant it can also be tricky business when it comes to both new and existing clients.

“It’s difficult to articulate, internally and externally,” says Simon.

“In this space, a lot of brands think in channels. They come to us and say, ‘We need somebody to manage our PPC, our SEO content, our social’. We presented to a massive life insurance company a couple of weeks ago, and our consultative approach was completely alien to them.” 

“We ran it by them, and they wanted us to pitch, but the brief was very heavily weighted towards a traditional channel route. We pitched an entirely different route, which was all of that stuff with consultancy and strategy on top.”

“In terms of new and current clients, we’re in a real mix at the moment – what do we do next?”

Simon and David will be sharing their journey from agency to consultancy, and why it was the best fit for them – it might even inspire you to change the way you do things too.