18 Dec

Getting the Marketing Output You Want

Want to know why a shared understanding in what effectiveness looks like is critical for successful agency and brand relationships?

Our webinar, in partnership with Dan Izbicki, Founder at Ethos (Ex Unilever, VCCP, WCRS) and James Hayhurst, Creator of The Magic Sauce (Ex Unilever and Leagas Delaney) which took place on the 10th of December explored just this, in addition to deep diving into the other common mistakes brands make when dealing with agencies.

Alongside James and Dan, the event was chaired by Ingenuity’s very own CEO Chris Kemp, who was also joined by Dunke Afe Marketing Director at Kimberly-Clark, Emily Somers, Marketing & Client Partner at The Constellation Collective and Maeve Bayles, Account Director at Charlescannon.

So, if you missed the webinar fear not, as we’ve collated the highlights below.

James Hayhurst kicked off the event by explaining how relationships are the most important input variable to any marketing output. Too often, clients and their agencies can lack quality conversations because they’re too scared to talk frankly with each other. Clients need to trust their agencies, as they are loyal, and agencies won’t do good work if they don’t feel secure. Remember, you want to be the client that they will go the extra mile for.

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Are long term agency relationships a thing of the past?

Emily started the conversation here by outlining how agency relationships have never been more important. Recently we’ve seen a trend towards in-housing, which makes sense in certain areas, but it can also lead to a lack of desire to change up the status quo.

If brand marketers invite agency thinking right into the heart of the organisation, enabling them to be an extension of the client team, it can unlock creativity – innovation really is the key to survive.

Dan jumped in to explain that what has changed is having multiple agencies and managing these interrelationships – brands that do well are built on a solid relationship with their agency, just like the foundations needed for any stable friendship or marriage.

Getting the balance between formal and informal conversations is vital. The best leaps and moments of inspiration often come from informal down the pub kind of chats, but now you need to actually set time aside to have these sorts of conversations.

What are the most important elements and behaviours to building strong relationships?

Dunke felt the starting point is always about clarity and alignment on what you’re trying to achieve. If you give an agency a brief, then you need to have a clear conversation about what the one outcome is. Always spend time on what might be obvious as there are so many variables to consider. By recognising upfront that things will change and pivot, you’ll be able to make changes accordingly.

When we think about behaviours, trust and respect stand out, saying what you mean and meaning what you say. If you lack trust, then things simply won’t progress well. Ultimately it has to be an equal partnership.

Brands have to see an agency as their partner and bring them in. It’s not always a natural behaviour, but if it’s done well you can see the agency go that extra mile. There’s no point glossing over things – trust, commitment and passion are the ingredients to generate big conversations needed to create better results.

Maeve added here how you get the best work out of the brand-agency relationship when everybody’s all in. You can tell if the other person is just going through the motions and not really into what they’re doing. Clients have to hold themselves responsible here and inject the passion right from the start.

From the agency side you have to immerse yourself in the client world – become a geek on their subject! Research their thought leaders, follow them on social, set google alerts – becoming an expert is key.

Dan said that broadly speaking, as an industry, we’ve become too focussed on the execution and creative delivery that we’re not doing enough of the rigour and discipline upfront – just let the creative and agency get on and do their thing.

Emily believes that investing in quality conversations, really listening to client needs and inviting them into all conversations is only when you can get underneath the real issues and concerns. Genuine collaboration and a shared vision helps too!

Remember agencies genuinely want to do a good job, adds James. Agencies are like Labradors; they want to do their best, so realise there’s a lot of potential in your agency.

Relationships are under pressure due to COVID, how has this affected you?

Due to most of our conversations being via technology this year, Dunke explained the importance of ‘the what and how’ conversations, making sure you’re asking how you’re behaving as a team and reflecting on how you are treating people.

Maeve found COVID-19 to be a leveller in many ways. Seeing people in their kitchen, home schooling their kids and drinking gin at 5pm, has triggered more human and less corporate conversations that will hopefully continue.

This year will leave an indelible mark on this generation of marketers who have discovered that you can still create great relationships and create great work as there are ways around just about everything!

Top tips from our panellists…

Emily Somers: The ideal way marketers can get the best out of their agencies is to invite them into their business, to innovate, problem solve and force you out of your comfort zone – that’s when you’ll see them at their best.

Dunke Afe: Do your best to really excite the agency about your consumer. Share the challenge you’re trying to solve to unlock great creativity.

Maeve Bayles: A lot of clients brief an agency and don’t share the budget, but by just giving a ballpark figure the work can be scoped properly without affecting the quality of creativity delivered. Just don’t be coy, as it shows lack of trust.

Dan Izbicki: Share your data and share your business challenge. Good creatives want to know what the business challenge is, as this will help answer what you’re trying to achieve.

James Hayhurst: Stakeholders are less interested in the brief and pile in at execution, which isn’t good! Instead, they need to be more engaged at the brief and less later in order to create great work.

If you’d like to learn more about how to optimise your agencies output by fostering better relationships with them, or you’d like to learn about new potential partners, please get in touch with Dario Pagani, Brand Services Director at Ingenuity on dario.pagani@ingenuitylondon.com