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From the Outside, In

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Future Proofing From the Outside, In
By Mike Raetsch, Managing DirectorA&G

As an agency leader who works with clients across many different industries, I had the vantage point of
seeing how COVID-19 disrupted business models across food service, tourism, healthcare, financial
services and beyond. But within that pandemic-related disruption was one incredibly positive outcome,
and that was the speed at which every company accelerated digital transformation initiatives to meet the
new needs of their customers. A&G partners like Tower Health launching meaningful experiences in
virtual care, Ninety Nine Restaurants launching new brands that only exist virtually — there were so many
examples of brands rising to the challenge of meeting their customers in moments of need. And making it
happen in a matter of months vs. what would have traditionally taken years. It was awe-inspiring to be a
part of.

Accenture recently put a finer point on what disruption will mean with this stat: “77% of CEO’s said their
company will fundamentally change the way it engages and interacts with its customers.” 77%! The
stakes to create amazing customer experiences have never been higher. Which reinforces what our
agency has been working toward for quite some time, a model we like to call brand building from the
outside, in.

Long gone are the days when brands were defined solely by what they communicated in advertising.
Who you say you are as a brand is still very important, because it’s the promise you make to your
customers. But as customers, we now see so much deeper into the companies we invite into our lives. It’s
the experience businesses deliver that determines whether they live up to their brand promise. For
example, as a customer, I connect with and value Panera’s historical promise of “Food As It Should Be,”
but my loyalty comes from how it’s delivered through every experience, like MyPanera which our CX team
helped shape.

And therein lies the sweet spot that is the future of our business at A&G. Bringing to life a brand’s best
self not just through powerful communications and storytelling, but getting much further inside the
businesses we work with and getting close to the actual customer experience, including service and
operations. If the experience is what you see and feel as a customer whenever you’re interacting with a
brand, it’s our job to really understand and appreciate how brand, technology, and operations all come
together as we create those experiences. It has led to a shift in culture from a pure marketing culture to a
marketing and business culture, and partnerships with brands like Keurig Dr. Pepper and CAVA.

As I look ahead, it is such an exciting time to be in marketing. We get to break the norms of success
being tied to measures like Share of Mind or Share of Voice, and build new value around what it means to
own Share of Life. And that creates so many new opportunities for agencies to expand their value,
diversify their talent pool, and create entirely new ways of working. All from the outside, in.

Mike Raetsch is Managing Director at Allen & Gerritsen