Battling the Burden of Incumbency
The privilege and pleasure of working with many of our clients for more than a decade is that we understand their internal processes and corporate complexities, their pain points and business imperatives. We are well versed in their brand identities and competitive landscapes. And we know their people, their motivations, and their comfort thresholds. In short, we think we know what they are willing to do and what they’re not.
While these tenured relationships contribute to a high level of trust and confidence, they also strap us with the so-called burden of incumbency.
The burden of incumbency — a term introduced to the GOXD vernacular by founder Steve Shlansky — refers to those times when we curb our creative instincts, because we think we know the extent to which our client is willing to innovate.
But often, we’re wrong. Often, they just need a little push from their agency partners.
And if we don’t give them that push, we put ourselves at risk of losing the client, because they don’t realize how very capable we are of disruption, innovation, and all those other status-quo-shattering things.
At GOXD, we challenge ourselves daily to remain keenly aware of this burden of incumbency. To remember that just because something worked once doesn’t mean it should be repeated in perpetuity. And to challenge our long-time clients to think big, embrace ingenuity, and remember that fortune favors the bold.
The American Association of Advertising Agencies reports that approximately 650 agency reviews are conducted annually, and incumbents retain the business less than 10 percent of the time. GOXD is determined not to be on the wrong side of that statistic.
Accordingly, we regularly review and disrupt project teams to infuse new energy and insights. And we do the same with our partner resources. We make a concerted effort to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, so that our clients have the best of both worlds: the institutional knowledge and relationships afforded by our history, paired with most innovative, non-habitual approach to their projects.