Think hiring an agency makes a marketer's life easier? Think again…
Earlier this year ID COMMS had an audience with an extremely senior FMCG marketer in Europe, on route to our meeting we pondered what some of his biggest challenges might be: activating around the Olympics, portfolio management, creative excellence, navigating through user generated content and what it was doing to his brand. He certainly has an exciting role encapsulating all of these great marketing conundrums and more yet when we asked him directly what seriously keeps him awake at night the answer was none of those things.
What preoccupies his darkest thoughts is how to control and incentivize a huge (seriously huge) roster of agencies.
One of his biggest frustrations was the duplication of resources across the agencies. Roster briefings had turned into 30+ attendees, impossible to manage, each agency now bringing a head of strategy, head of digital, two or three account people – it was out of control.
When we asked him what he thought the solution might be he said that whilst he knew he was working with some of the best agencies available, he also knew the people in each of those agencies that really made an impact on his business. Therefore in an ideal world he would be able to cherry-pick key talent, irrespective of agency and blend them into an uber-agency team, to create properly integrated marketing for his brands and avoid the time, money and sanity wastage that goes with managing such an unwieldy roster.
I think this is such a common problem. Not only is this issue a serious problem for effective budgeting but it’s a serious productivity issue. The “too many cooks…” adage doesn’t just apply to the culinary arts, more than ever agencies are overloading billable teams and resource and leaving their clients struggling to have to manage and co-ordinate the roster. At its worst, clients complain of having to up-resource their own internal teams just to manage the increasingly complex roster; so there are escalating costs on both sides whilst productivity of the team drops due to the time it takes to collaborate across vast teams.
As usual there is no silver bullet to resolve this but identifying the duplication and then identifying the most productive parts of your roster is the a good place to start. The best solution of course is to sit down (with some help and a blank piece of paper) and scope out exactly what resource your marketing team needs to engage externally, according to the modern rules of marketing. These rules, if you need to ask, primarily involve not necessarily starting with a creative agency as first pick. Instead, define a scope of work which ignores the traditional agency silos and starts instead with a few questions:
1 what ambition do we have for our brands (the more solid the KPIs the better)
2 what role will marketing play in this (ditto)
3 what type of individuals will we need to engage from outside our organisation
Then the search can begin and new rules of engagement created. Its likely many of your own people will hate it, but then that's what defensive marketing does to you.
For the moment, dare to dream....