The evolving agency landscape

Comparing agency life and the habits of marketeers now with the equivalent many years ago reveals a number of flaws that need addressing in order to keep talent from wandering to other areas. One man who has seen the common practice of becoming T-shaped through training fade away in recent years is Stephen Knight, the Founder and CEO of agency network Pimento.

Stephen’s extensive experience with clients such as Aviva, SSE and Disney, gives him a unique view on what helps an agency find success, acquiring and keeping the right talent to help you achieve more, and cultivating a creative and collaborative approach to working with your team.

This episode covers

  • The evolving agency landscape
  • Becoming T-shaped where specialising is common practice
  • Focussing on international talent, not just in the UK
  • The innovation and change that’s been forced by 2020
  • Creativity and collaboration
  • How to win new clients in 2021

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Links & references 

Katie Street:

Stephen Knight:


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Episode highlights 

“The reality is, I think we’ve seen that like so many other industries, COVID has propelled evolution and accelerated, in many respects, the development of new approaches, new structures, and new disciplines. ” – 6:19 – Stephen Knight

“Clients want nimble, creative solutions to their problems. They want great people, and they want to be able to engage, and they don’t really care where they’re based anymore. Gone are the days of needing an office in every major capital of the world, that ship has sailed.” – 9:18 – Stephen Knight

“The nature of the projects that we get are incredibly diverse, and that’s what I get excited by. We’re meeting people all the time, I’m basically getting in front of new clients all the time. Equally, we’re getting introduced to new agencies and new people on a daily basis.” – 16:26 – Stephen Knight

“When I started the business, you got a formal training program, you spent 12 months going through a training program as a graduate until the point you were let loose on the client. These days, we don’t have enough margin in the business to be able to actually give people that luxury.” – 18:12 – Stephen Knight

“You no longer have to look just at the UK market, you could find the best talent around the world. It doesn’t much matter where they’re based, depending on their role. The best creatives could come Australia, Brazil, wherever it happens to be, and actually you make it work for yourself.” – 24:33 – Stephen Knight

“In 2021, we will have a fresh set of challenges. Business is all about challenge, it’s always about being able to flexibly move and accommodate the environments in which we operate. For example, next year we’ve got Brexit to contend with, and we’re still in recession . ” – 32:34 – Stephen Knight

“I can see that actually, work has got tougher for a lot of people and the pressures on the people are significantly higher than they were when I was 25 years old. I think people get paid proportionally less, because there’s less money in the business. And I don’t think that the fun quota is quite what it was, and I think we have to find a way to reward people in order to attract and retain talent.” – 38:38 – Stephen Knight

“Be really, really clear about what problem you’re solving, and what’s your proposition. What’s the thing you do better than anyone else? Be brilliant at that.” – 42:34 – Stephen Knight