First we heard about “The Experience Economy,” the idea that service organizations are taking over the economy.  When your kid has a birthday in the 1950s you bake a cake from scratch; in the 60s you open a box and add an egg; in the 90’s you just go to Chuck E Cheese.  In other words, you buy experiences, not products.  Then Gary Vaynerchuk writes his book, “The Thank You Economy.”  His premise: it’s all about the relationship and relationships occur in social channels.

Economy Books

What I’m noticing, with all due respect to the importance of both experiences and relationships is the third great movement of the post-modern economy: “The D0-It-Yourself Economy.”  This is different from the Bob Villa, Home Depot, DIY movement of the ’80s.  And, it seems to be manifested most noticeably in the realm of business services.  How many times have we heard a colleague say: there’s an app for that?  The truth is, there is a dizzying array of apps to do almost anything.  And if there isn’t an app, there are a number of relatively new technologies offering professional people the ability to do things themselves rather than hiring people to do them.  This website, for instance, is built on a Word Press template.  There is a content management system (CMS) embedded in it so that with relatively little training, almost anyone can learn to manage his or her own website.  And other templates–Wix and Square Space for instance–are arguably even more targeted to the DIY website marketplace.  Google has a number of products from AdWords to Google Analytics which make it relatively easy for everyman to participate in web marketing.  And products like Dropbox and Noodle make it possible to operate without as much administrative support as was once necessary.

The upshot for those of us in the marketing industry…more and more clients are just doing it themselves.  If not all of it, at least some of it.  This is also known as doing it “in-house.”  I don’t think we can blame would-be clients entirely.  As an industry, we’ve done too much to run clients off.  Retainers were too high, unbelievably high production costs, trade unions over-involved in broadcast production, dissention among the ranks, lack of measurable results.  You know another phrase which aptly describes the DIY economy? “The Project Economy.”  Clients hire advertising and marketing firms to do projects…the projects they can’t or simply don’t desire to do themselves.  Sometimes doing it yourself leads to better results; oftentimes it doesn’t.  What we’ve learned–as agency people and as clients–is that doing it yourself can be easier than working with others (and sometimes this matters more than achieving results).