In case you were out a few days last week, our world has changed and is changing every single second of every single day. A technology that was new yesterday may be archaic today. We live in an unprecedented time where the one constant is change—rapid, warp-speed change.
All of this change requires a change in the relationship between brands and their agencies. The result is this: Forward-thinking agencies are ready to serve a higher purpose than just being “idea factories” for individual campaigns, in the words of Jeff Cheong, president of Tribal Worldwide Asia.
“Maybe the solution to this problem is not an ad, Maybe it’s new packaging or a shift in distribution, or a shift in how you sell the product. We’ve moved from an era when products could be sold based on what made them different, but now, creativity has become a differentiator.”
To their credit, marketing leaders the world over have willingly and happily embraced this change. One such leader is Patrick Adams, head of consumer marketing at PayPal North America, who says he doesn’t delineate between his full-time employees and his agency people. “They’re all seen as one and the same as the relationships become tighter and more significant,” he says. “Whether it’s the digital agency that’s helping us drive our acquisitions or the creative team, each is immersed with our internal marketing team.”
Here are four ways CMOs can forge better relationships with their agencies while achieving all the other imperatives that define marketing success today.
1. Mine All of Today’s Rich Sources of Data
Remember, kids: It’s not big data, it’s the right data. Attribution is essential for understanding the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and knowing which investments will deliver the best results. For example, the agency Starcom tags all the digital media used in each campaign, whether the channel is the Internet, mobile devices, or television. “This helps us understand who is clicking on the ads and what they do as a result,” says CEO Lisa Donohue. “Ultimately, we can then tell if they have made a purchase, which puts us in a better position to track the efficacy of the strategy that we implemented.”
2. Capitalize on the Latest Technologies
Marketing executives have a widespread understanding that the latest digital technologies are powering marketing efforts for agencies and marketing organizations alike. Technology must be the heart of any agency, says Cheong. “We’ve embedded that as a core competency and built a complementary talent pool around it. It has taken us five years to get the engine going, and the cross-pollination has created a new DNA of experimentation to test concepts and technologies.”
3. Enhance Professional and Personal Skills
New demands mean agencies and brands require new skill sets to be successful. This includes finding people with a broad understanding of businesses, not just the marketing function. Adams believes that as corporations rethink the role of marketing, we’re seeing deeper integration not only among marketers and their agencies, but between marketers and peers in the operations, technology, product, and finance departments. “What makes a stellar head of marketing today is someone who not only has the marketing skill-set, but who can also flex across technology and product/merchandising. That skill set makes for a great marketing leader and will ensure success in the future.”
4. Balance Local and Global Imperatives
In today’s online and digital world, every brand is global. Because of that, marketing executives must pay attention to regional differences across various international markets. Executives say brands can’t effectively connect with local customers without a strong regional presence in important markets. Some organizations are using their digital marketing prowess and knowledge of local culture to create new business opportunities. At the same time, marketing organizations also seek consistency in some aspects of their campaigns.
The ability to market to an international audience is also essential for Dow Corning, which logs more than half of its sales from outside the U.S. Randall Rozin, Dow Corning’s Global Director of Brand Management and Digital Marketing, says they are constantly thinking internationally in terms of executions and planning.
He said the brand also makes sure the content is relevant and meaningful to a local customer. “To do that, we think well beyond simple translation to what we call trans-creation,” he adds. “It’s not always a direct translation; it’s creating content that’s specifically tailored for the customer in each market.”
As executives at brands and agencies encounter fundamental changes in the marketing industry, they must find ways around the barriers that block the closer collaboration both groups need to succeed.
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