Virgin America has a new business partner — a two-year-old upstart ad agency aptly called Anomoly. The agency did not win the contact by pitching a traditional marketing campaign of slogans and 30-second commercials. Instead, the agency offered to “partner” with Virgin America by offering product design, strategic consulting, and other services in exchange for a cut of the sales. (See the full story in the January/February 2007 issue of Business 2.0.)

According to Spence Kramer, Virgin’s marketing chief,

“They never even mentioned ads. They were telling us how we could make more money.”

and this,

“Anomoly is in it to share risk. They’ve become a business partner.”

I was already mulling this over and wondering about the implicatons for the industry when I read Seth Godin’s surprisingly similar comments in his blog post:

“What ad agencies ought to do, in my opinion, is not focus on selling ads anymore. And instead, focus on getting in deeper within the clients, and help the clients make products that people want to talk about.”

This has implications not just for advertising agencies, but for any professional who offer services to businesses. No longer is it good enough for consultants to be tangentially related to their clients. Those who will succeed must be willing to get some skin in the game. And become business partners.