#AgencyFocus: Digital is not a commodity — Platinum Seed
by Carey Finn (@carey_finn) The economic climate is pushing companies towards ever-greater cost-efficiency in all areas — and digital strategy is often the first to face a budget cut. But Bradley Elliott, director of Platinum Seed, believes there’s confusion about what digital really entails, and what it may do for an organisation.
“I think there’s a real misunderstanding in the market about what digital is,” says Elliott. “I think the market perceives ‘digital’ to be digital marketing, covering campaign strategy and brand strategy in the digital space, microsites, social media — not digital transformation or tech enabling business.”
This, he says, has led to a “commodification” and condensation, rather than specialisation, of digital services, and a proliferation of low-cost offerings based on the mistaken belief that “anyone can do it half well”. Social media management is a prime example.
Platinum Seed takes a different approach to digital, and this, it believes, sets it apart. The business, founded by Elliott in 2009, describes itself as a digital innovation company that designs products, services and experiences to connect brands and consumers. It’s about much more than maintaining a Facebook page or website.
“Sum of all interactions”
“For us, digital customer experience is the sum of all interactions that a customer has with any digital touch point within a business,” Elliott explains. “We want to drive growth at every single one, or at least introduce points that can drive growth.”
This reflects Elliott’s own focus on growing his agency, although, to avoid being pigeonholed, he doesn’t use that word to describe it. While brand promotion is part of what Platinum Seed does, it doesn’t want to be perceived as operating solely in the marketing and advertising industry, which “agency” might connote. The emphasis on digital as a tool for holistic growth has required a shift in mindset from clients (Elliott isn’t a fan of that word. either; he prefers partners), but the results and feedback have been positive on the whole.
Despite the tough state of affairs in the industry over the past 12 months, Platinum Seed continues to be stable, and earlier this year celebrated its scooping of the Campari East Africa account. Other major partners include Vodacom and Acceleration. Until recently, Edward Snell was also in the fold.
Do something unusual
With low overall staff turnover, plus the onboarding of Paul Coetzer, ex-M&C Saatchi Abel, as strategic director, and Ally Behr, formerly with Gloo, as design director in July last year, the company seems geared for success — though here again, Elliott emphasises that they’re looking to do something a little unusual.
“Our business model is quite different to a traditional agency,” he says. “We position ourselves as a growth agency; we prefer to measure ourselves in terms of the growth we provide clients, rather than awards. I’m talking about bottom-line growth as opposed to impressions, reach, likes, etc.”
With a nod to thought-leader Dave Duarte, Elliott speaks of truths, trends and trifles. “In business, growth is a truth.” So is digital, he adds.
In future, Platinum Seed wants to position itself as a business-growth engine, combining design, UX and UI with technology, insights, data and behavioural psychology. Elliott is no stranger to the value in data analytics; he is involved in another startup, Continuon, which aims to offer insights into the ways people interact and engage with brands on social media. Platinum Seed’s internal incubator (for products with the potential to disrupt or add value), and a premium accelerator to promote rapid growth, which will rely on partnerships with other experts, are two other areas highlighted for growth.
“It’s really about solidifying our position right now,” says Elliott. “We want to be seen as — if you want growth, come to us, and that growth can be achieved in many different ways. It could be as simple as moving a button on a website, or it could be transforming your entire customer journey.”
Updated at 11.23am on 25 May 2018.
Carey Finn (@carey_finn) is a writer and editor with a decade and a half of industry experience, having covered everything from ethical sushi in Japan to the technicalities of roofing, agriculture, medical stuff and more. She’s also taught English and journalism, and dabbled in various other communications ventures along the way, including risk reporting. As a contributing writer to MarkLives.com, her new column “#AgencyFocus” will be an ongoing weekly series updating the market on agency performance, including business performance, innovation, initiatives, the work, awards and people.
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