As we move past the so-called GenAI ‘debate’, marketers are now tackling the next big question: how to adopt AI.

They’re looking to bring AI into their marketing organisations, into their teams, augmented into their processes, and with an ultimate view to moving into AI-assisted effectiveness.

Agencies have always been vital partners for brands on this journey. Deep subject matter experts who understand every part of the marketing operating model, combined with agility, flexibility, consultancy, and the technical chops to enable AI contextually. Agencies are experts who know how to rally around vision and objectives to find a way to deliver better outcomes for brands. They never lose sight of the bigger picture – delivering exceptional communications for brands that ultimately lead to action and sales.

Additionally, agencies have been focused on RPA and automation efficiency for some time. Others such as us, make sure to invest in future technologies, including AI, to make sure we continue to add value clients businesses. It’s why people hire agencies – to make them experience better ROI than their competitors. As such, AI isn’t new to us.

Whilst many marketing teams will have experimented with GenAI -plugging a prompt or two into ChatGPT, or generating that killer Midjourney slide deck front cover – unlocking the true potential for GenAI requires a considered approach to short-term gains, a vision for what we could achieve, and the roadmap to get there. Agencies are perfectly placed

There are so many reasons why I believe agencies are the perfect partner for the marketing AI journey. Here are six.

Start small to get started

Agencies are a great proxy for building automation and AI into the way marketing teams already work – we’re used to being briefed on the exact things you need your GenAI tools to understand, plus we know the intricacies of your brand, your tone of voice, and your brand guidelines.

Take stakeholders on the journey

As communications experts, agencies are hardwired to bring the business case into focus. Equally adept at crafting the right messages, lines against enquiry for even the most ardent of AI-naysayers, we have the first-party knowledge and the comms know-how to support marketers with internal conversations from briefing the C-suite to onboarding the team.

Planning and strategy are core strengths

Agencies are also constantly involved in rigorous insight gathering, data crunching and strategy development . We are masters at breaking down the objective, framing it in context of the micro and macro environment, assessing risk and opportunity to plot what it takes for the course ahead, and we thrive when there’s a big audacious goal. All we need is a direction. Flexibility is also inherent, agencies are masters of pivoting in-flight, so we’re just as adept at evolving the plan as it unfolds.

Innovative by nature

Agency life is all about delivering today,but planning for tomorrow – we don’t even recognise innovation as something beyond the day to day, it’s just what we do. Years ago we launched our Human Understanding Lab and part of it was the AI proprietary platform LUCA. It has an ecosystem of capabilities, including trend analysis, content intelligence and customer sentiment tracking, which supports clients with delivering human understanding and increasing emotional resonance in marketing activations.

Martech and related tools are fundamental to how we work – always thinking digital-first and spotting every opportunity for efficiency is second nature. Your agency team will be highly proficient at learning fast, with the initiative to gain knowledge and capability for progression. GenAI is just a tool, but agencies have the inclination to find new ways to apply it.

A decade of digital transformation

For those of us long in the tooth of B2B marketing and comms, we’ve seen our fair share of digital transformation being delivered by and through our clients. We’ve understood the tech, the tools, the services, and we’ve interviewed and shared many, many customer success stories in the process. We get it. We understand the potential for AI in a business context, we understand the technology, and we know how to use it!

Competitors? No, custodians

The question within our clients’ organisations, with the arrival of artificial writers, designers and planners, is “do we need an agency to support us?” It’s OK, we totally get that – and it’s a valid question to have. We believe the onus is on agencies to support clients in adoption and innovation with AI and automation – what’s good for your business, is good for ours – and we are still first and foremost in the business of delivering value and service to support your goals. What changes is how we work, and how we work together.

What’s also evident is that GenAI can’t do everything an agency would do. There’s a lot of middle ground where robots can’t be a straight switch for human capacity, creativity, relationship building or problem-solving.

For our part, we have teams who write, design and create on behalf of brands, trained to use AI tools, and to find new ways to be efficient, all transparently and in collaboration with our clients. Doing things differently should be agency DNA. It’s my firm belief that agencies have an integral role in the fabric of brand marketing and comms; we’ll be the custodians of GenAI, pushing it forwards in the pursuit of ever greater B2B effectiveness, which in the end benefits us all.

Managing Director, B2B at UNLIMITED

Faye has 20+ years' experience spanning PR & comms, digital, demand generation, advertising and integrated marketing, much of it agency-side. In 2023, Faye was promoted to Head of UNLIMITED's newly launched B2B Tech division.

Formerly Chief Revenue Officer at UNLIMITED, she is a true "T-shaped" marketing leader, with specialism in B2B marketing – particularly developing effective go-to-market strategy and operations for B2B and technology brands, plus growth marketing for scale-up and SaaS businesses. Many of her growth clients have achieved successful multi-million valuation exits, built on predictable marketing, pipeline and revenue development, driving margin and topline growth.