by Rob Connolly, The Inside Partnership
The marketing and communications landscape is more demanding than ever – for both brands and agencies.
We’re living in a world that is constantly evolving, placing increased pressure on traditional marketing models and brand–agency partnerships.
Thinking has become fragmented and creativity diluted as brands juggle multiple agencies, areas of expertise and points of view. Agencies are fighting to maintain healthy margins and fees that will attract and retain the best talent. These challenges collide, to result in agencies providing less value, and less effective and efficient marketing.
It is no surprise that a recent survey carried out by Forrester found that only half of marketeers are satisfied with their lead agency partners, or that the advertising membership body ISBA found that a third of brands have incorporated an on-site agency into their organisation to increase expertise and improve collaboration.
Leading brands are moving to take control, either by making changes to their existing model or looking to design a more sustainable model for the future.
The challenges that brands now face include identifying the right model for the future of their business, knowing who are the right partners and understanding how they can get the best out of them.
The Right Model
No two businesses are the same, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution for identifying the right model. It is about finding a model that suits your brand’s long-term aims and unique challenges.
Some brands consolidate their agencies and focus on building stronger, more robust, value-based relationships. Some build in-house agencies to improve consistency and agility. Some buy agencies to drive cost efficiencies. Others choose to stick with existing partners and focus on new ways of working, remuneration strategies and optimising their current model.
Whatever route a brand chooses, it needs to consider what makes the business unique – from size, structure and financial position to brand culture, mission and, of course, people.
The Right Partners
It is important to find the right partners with the right talent, capabilities and scale. It is equally important to find partners that are right for your brand’s culture, ethics, goals, valuesand personality. We know that the future will be testing, so brands need partners that will collaborate with them, fight for them and take on the responsibility to deliver for them.
Get the best out of your agency partners
1. Set Up For Success
There is no doubt that designing the right model, finding the best partners, developing new ways of working, introducing the right suite of tech and tools, and rewarding partners fairly will go a long way to helping brands succeed in the future. However, it is also important that brands don’t miss out on the opportunity to evolve internally. Before brands embark on a change management programme, here are a few things they need to ensure they have in place within their business:
- People and processes: evolving internally is key to achieving success – from hiring the right staff and introducing new internal ways of working to aligning KPIs.
- Leadership and planning: ensuring leadership teams are capable of planning and driving change will ensure brands achieve success more quickly.
- Internal and external communications: achieving internal buy-in is a huge part of carrying out a change programme, so it is key that you take everyone along on the journey. Be open and honest with internal and external partners, and make sure you keep them fully and regularly updated throughout the process.
2. Reward Success
Whether you’re developing new models or evolving existing ones, it’s important to introduce a sustainable remuneration approach for marketing partners. If partners have helped brands succeed, then they should succeed too. If brands don’t reward success, partners will struggle to innovate and attract/retain the best talent to drive the future success of the brand.
3. Work Hard On Partnerships
Brands need to surround themselves with great talent, develop a sustainable model for their partners to thrive within, and motivate them to succeed. They also need to work hard on relationships and partnerships. Brands will get out what they put in. If you treat partners with respect and focus on collaboration, you will get the best out of them and they will achieve more effective and efficient marketing.