It’s Q4, and many agencies are strategically trying to plan out their new business efforts for 2019 while brands are thinking about their marketing plans. This year, like every year before, we have seen massive changes across the entire marcom industry. From rapid technology advancements shaping the digital landscape to consumers taking more and more control over user experience, we all stuck asking “what’s next?”
Lisa Colantuono is a veteran agency search consultant who is continuously aligning some of the world’s leading brands with best-fit agencies. She joined us today at Catapult New Business and provided insights on how agencies should be preparing for 2019 and beyond.
Lisa explained that in 2019, agencies need to go back to the basics.
What does that mean? She explains, “Looking back at 2018, clients would call me asking to call an agency review for the most baffling reasons. Their agencies were over budget, missed production deadlines, and some marketers even said that their agency’s teams had changed so much that they didn’t even know who was working on their account anymore.” Moving forward, those basic issues are detrimental and will make or break any client-agency relationship.
What Marketers Will Be Seeking In Their 2019 Agency Partners
Lias explains that brands will be seeking these three fundamental qualities in future agency partners:
Knowledge of the brand- There isn’t an agency review where the marketing team doesn’t evaluate the agencies understanding of the brand, and more importantly, their learning curve of the brand throughout the review process.
Remember that when brand marketers are making a final decision, they are asking themselves two questions vital: “who learned the most about my brand throughout the review process?” and “who taught me the most throughout the review process?”
Knowledge of the business- Marketers expect the agency not only to understand the brand but their industry as a whole. Be careful not to stretch your agency into areas where you lack experience and may not have much credibility as in the long-term; this will only hinder your relationship with the client.
Speed and agility- Every marketer is challenging their agency partners to work in more agile ways. They are seeking partners who question and reinvent their workflows and processes to work faster and more efficiently, all while providing better results.
Proving Yourself During the Pitch
Let’s say your agency is confident that you have the brand knowledge, industry expertise, and agile methodology down. How do you prove your abilities in the pitch process?
Be willing to date before you get married- More simply put, build the relationship and prove yourself first. Allow clients to speak to past or current clients, provide them with case studies, and be willing to work on smaller projects before landing the huge ones. Once the company has an understanding of how exactly you operate with their business, they will be more likely to do bigger, better projects with you.
Re-Establishing Trust Between Brands and Agencies
Trust is a whole other topic, as it has been arguably the most significant problem between brands and agencies this year. With the number of in-house agencies increasing by 52% in the past decade, how can agencies build that trust back up?
Lisa explains, “If you talk to the ANA, it’s all gloom and doom,” but she thinks there is still a way to revive the trust factor between brands and agencies.
Establish an open book policy and stick with it- Allow clients to open up the books at any given point and time. A relationship is built on trust. You need to communicate, be open and be honest about all issues.
Be proactive- If your client hires a new CMO, don’t run the other way assuming they will call a search. Instead, call them and offer to host a review. Any marketer will be thrilled with this kind of proactive call. It builds trust, and they will trust that you are doing right by them.