One of the biggest challenges digital agencies face today, besides COVID-induced economic pressure, is finding differentiation in an automated age. After all, major players like Google and Facebook increasingly are becoming DIY platforms. This puts agencies under growing pressure to compensate with more tools, services, and expertise for small businesses. How do agencies stay ahead in a sustainable way?

It’s a question that MatchCraft CEO Sandy Lohr was ready for in a LocalAgency interview that premiered today. We’ll share some experts from the interview here but we encourage you to watch the full, wide-ranging half-hour interview on Localogy Live!

Sandy runs MatchCraft, a global martech company with employees distributed around the world and active campaigns in 44 countries. MatchCraft’s bread and butter services are running search, social, and display campaigns. MatchCraft primarily sells its solutions through a global network of resellers.

In addition to the future of digital agencies and martech companies, Sandy and I dove into a pretty deep conversation on the future of work. As she puts it, the old mantra of “digital-first” has given way to a new battle cry.  “Remote first.”

On Combatting Automation

Sandy said the answer to automation involves integration, service, and part creativity.

“Google can’t do social. Facebook doesn’t do search. Google doesn’t do Bing. Bing doesn’t do Google. And so just putting all those together is something that I think will continue to be unique,” Sandy said.  “And then just the level of service we’re providing and the consultative approach. That’s how we stick. The creative solutions we can provide that are unique to our clients, by understanding their businesses. You aren’t going to get that from Google and Facebook and Bing. They just aren’t going to have that level of attention.”

On Surviving the COVID Crash  

Sandy said MatchCraft has weathered the COVID economic crash fairly well. The company has tightened its belt but has thus far avoided layoffs. And after a rough patch that had its nadir in April, many of MatchCraft’s accounts have returned to pre-COVID levels. Sandy credits a diversification effort that began well before the crisis for saving her company’s bacon.

“We had taken on an initiative about five years ago to make sure we were more diversified. Not only in the type of clients we serve, whether it was an agency, or whether it was a media company or a vertical player, ” Sandy said. “But also the types of services we offer.”

On the Future of the Workplace

We also talked about the future of her company’s culture in the wake of all the changes COVID has wrought. Even before COVID, MatchCraft was a hybrid office-virtual environment, with employees scattered across the globe. Going forward, more attention will be paid to the virtual side of the business. And she talked about how the broader changes to how we work as a culture will be long-lasting and profound.

“When you talk about home builders,” Sandy said, citing one example. “Their home designs have already changed because of the new environment of everybody working from home. [For instance], you no longer need just one office. You probably need, depending on the family situation, two offices. You need a place for children that is quiet. And things like that.”

Sandy has also been thinking about how to retain the things that made her company culture cohesive in a more fully virtual setting.

“So, MatchCraft has always had a couple of causes that we always tried to do in terms of giving back. And so we are trying to come up with ways we can do that remotely as a team. Because it’s not just about giving back and writing a check. It’s about how we did the activities that were team-based. There’s an organization called Kindly, that we have partnered with, and we were able to do a virtual, give back opportunity. And we can now do virtual mentoring. That’s also a big passion of ours, which is about diversity and inclusivity. So you don’t lose your culture. But you’re enhancing that culture. And it’s no longer about a physical space. It’s no longer about our ping pong table and happy hours.”

Please tune in for the full interview and stay tuned for future LocalAgency episodes.

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