Franziska von Lewinski reveals what awaits full-service agencies in 2023

Franziska von Lewinski about her perspective on the opportunities and challenges for full-service agencies in 2023.

An exclusive DMEXCO interview with: Franziska von Lewinski, CEO of SYZYGY GROUP

For English subtitles, please watch the interview directly on Youtube.

“Si-zuh-jee” – what a tongue-twister! So, what’s behind the name?

Franziska von Lewinski: A syzygy is an astronomical term and describes the phenomenon when three celestial bodies align together in a straight line. That happens during a solar eclipse for example, when the moon moves between the sun and the Earth. Our founder Marco Seiler thought to himself that when the three elements of strategy, creation, and technology align, then something equally fascinating happens – just digitally. And that’s where the name “SYZYGY” comes from.

Since last summer, you’ve been hosting your podcast “Fascination Unlimited”, where you talk to real people about their positive digital experiences. What insights can you share with us?

Franziska von Lewinski: For me, it’s about sharing digital insights. It’s not about the technology, but what’s actually happening behind it, what happens to people when they use digital technologies. The podcast is meant to show that digital is more than just technology and processes, emotions can be evoked digitally, entire industries can be transformed digitally, and people can also be genuinely emotionally touched digitally. That’s what I want to highlight, because it’s often underestimated how emotional a digital application actually is.

Speaking of evoking emotions: What should a full-service agency have in its portfolio in 2023?

Franziska von Lewinski: We firmly believe that the digital experience is extremely important for brands and companies today. Most touchpoints with a brand are now digital. It used to be about a website, an online business card. Now it’s about the connected customer journey. It’s not just about marketing your products and services online, it’s also about making your sales digital, making your customer service digital, and, at the very start of the funnel, also advising customers digitally. And all that has to be taken into account as part of the connected customer journey.

To do that, you obviously need to position yourself differently from before and move away from the traditional agency setup. And that’s precisely what spurs us on: we want to be able to manage this connected customer journey, end to end. And that’s how we position ourselves: not only do we have a really good UX unit, but we also have a strategic unit. We need an IT team that is also active on the backend and can really take care of IT integration. We need performance marketing and also have to bring it together with customer relationship management. Salesforce know-how is important – and so on, in order to build this connected customer journey. So, why do digital experiences have such great potential?

Because the technology is now so advanced that it fades into the background and, when we have these digital experiences, we feel positive emotions. By that, I don’t mean uploading an emotional video that keeps customers gripped for a long time.

We used to be measured by the “time on site” metric. I don’t believe that’s relevant anymore. I think it’s about the user quickly getting what they’re looking for and about us really creating added value and making a difference.

And, in my opinion, that can be done extremely quickly so that people can spend more time living their actual lives and quickly get what they want in the form of digital experiences. That then triggers positive emotions and nurtures the customer bond that we’re aiming for.

What will be the biggest challenge for full-service agencies in 2023?

Franziska von Lewinski: Something I’m watching with great interest is the current hype surrounding ChatGPT. I think it’s great! I’m a big fan of exploring its potential, although I think it’s absolutely right and sensible that many people are wary of its risks. But I personally am focusing on its opportunities first and foremost – especially in light of the current shortage of skilled professionals. We need lots of people and would like to hire more people, and if ChatGPT can help us not only be more effective, but also boost our quality, then we’d welcome that with open arms! And the challenge for 2023 will lie in determining where this kind of technology can help us and where we can develop the first use cases together with our clients – always with an eye to being better, because that is our aim. For example, could we not use the technology to create and display content in a much more targeted way? And that’s how we look at it, always from the perspective of opportunity. Of course, there are also risks that we need to examine, but there are a whole lot of opportunities that we want to leverage. Does that present a challenge? Yes, but a positive and exciting one.

What are you looking forward to most in 2023?

Franziska von Lewinski: We brought last year to a successful close with really good financial results and also built a good basis in the two years before that in order to focus more strongly on an M&A strategy again. That has always been part of SYZYGY GROUP and we aim to really ramp that up again. That’s exciting, of course, because the M&A strategy will allow us to further expand our service portfolio and acquire additional expertise. And that’s an exciting task that I’m really looking forward to.


What tip can you give agencies in order to be a successful and happy team?

Franziska von Lewinski: We were working from home for two years. That was a really long time, and we got out of practice, forgot, or never had the chance to learn – because there were a lot of people entering the job for the first time during this period – what it means to celebrate our successes and put things in motion together in an office environment. Although a lot of tasks can be done from home, an office environment lets you be more present, build relationships with your colleagues, and come into contact with someone you would have otherwise never called via Teams or another video conferencing technology. And we need to get back to that and show people the benefits of being in each other’s presence.

Although a lot of tasks can be done from home, an office environment lets you be more present, build relationships with your colleagues, and come into contact with someone you would have otherwise never called via Teams or another video conferencing technology.

And we need to get back to that and show people the benefits of being in each other’s presence.

And that’s why we believe that offices aren’t just a workplace, but also a meetup place. And we create specific formats for that and give people reasons to meet up. Whether going to lunch together or organizing events for the entire SYZYGY GROUP, where people can come together face to face, interact, and inspire each other. That not only facilitates collaboration, but also significantly improves it!

Last question: What are your three essentials for a good agency-client relationship?

Franziska von Lewinski:

  1. Listening in order to understand what your clients actually need
  2. Working together as partners because that allows you to really achieve joint success
  3. Providing feedback and being transparent, even when something isn’t going so well – as early as possible and in both directions

Franziska, thank you for the inspiring interview – we wish you all the success for 2023!