The agency for clients that don't like agencies
More and more clients across all industries are quietly laying off their marketing directors as their FDs seek to reduce expensive staff overheads. The problem this is causing is junior marketing staff are being left almost rudderless. The net result is wealth of RAMs – Random Acts of Marketing with little or no joined up thinking, which because they inevitably fail, leave senior directors to believe marketing does not work in their industry.
The interesting thing for me is the way this has impacted upon on our own new business process. The more astute clients have realised they can’t afford to let their bright young things in marketing go but need an agency-like mentality to recapture a viable sales and marketing direction. The problem is marketing agencies have fragmented so much into specialisms that none of them can join the dots any more. More importantly, clients can neither afford the time nor the money to hire a myriad of different agencies or the support staff to liaise with them.
The net result of all of this has been to change the way we work as an agency and what we offer. Indeed, I do not consider JDi to be an agency in the sense that so many ‘wannabes” wish to be seen. We’ve moved on and so have the clients. They don’t want agencies anymore and I have news for you, they don’t really need them anymore either. What they really want is someone who can make sense of this multifaceted, multi-channelled world and give guidance, discipline and structure to their junior marketing staff without being a financial or HR burden. They want the speed of a conduit with all the connections of an agency but non the ego and double-dealing. They want experience by the lorry load but they need someone who is actually out there at the coalface and in touch with everything that is going on and can make it happen like yesterday.
These clients cannot afford to disengage from marketing but want risk reduction because to put it simply, when the budget is cut to the bone you cannot afford to get it wrong. There is no second chance. Many of these firms have identified that this is not a battle for land grab but rather for survival and in order to survive they must put one or more of their competitors out of business.
To those that think this is a bit ruthless I say yes it is and quite rightly so. Clients need more than agencies have to offer. They need the experience of those that have made it and the killer instinct of those still hungry for more. So, what if they could have both and still keep their costs to a minimum. This is the brief JDi was given by a prospective client 2 years ago. Our solution would be as brave as it was radical but even I could not have envisaged how successful it would be in achieving our clients’ objectives.
How do you work for a client that has no marketing director? How do you work for a client who does not want an agency, does not believe in agencies and does not like or trust agencies. The answer was simple though not obvious – well no at least to me. We recommended that we became their Head of Marketing, appointed their marketing staff and created a hybrid in-house Marketing Department and external agency that would work with both existing suppliers and had the network to satisfy all new requirements – all on a pay as you use basis.
Today most of our clients, both large and small work with us in this truly unique way. FDs like the significant financial savings, supplier partners love the ease of working and clients adore the results. For my part it has confirmed what I have known for nearly two decades, we really are the agency for clients that have had enough of agencies. And now it would seem, their marketing directors too.
RRR. NO, NOT REST, RELAXATION AND RECREATION… REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE!
In this digital age, how can ad agencies be more environmentally-friendly?
Start with Strategy
Integrated strategy is not just a means to an end; it is a process in itself. Integration effectively combines all marcoms tools into a seamless strategy, giving you the edge over your competitors. The complementary media and consistency of message amplifies the audience impact at minimal cost, enabling you to physically reduce the amount of marcoms materials you put out there, without compromising on results.
Are your Tactics Targeted?
As always, the core principles apply – and the most important principle is targeting. To improve your campaign’s performance and increase results: understand your target, breathe deeply, steady your hand and aim that arrow. Better targeting means less waste.
Dance your way forward with Digital
Digital channels and analytics tools are constantly growing in sophistication, increasing the success of online marketing with tangible results. Since digital requires no collateral, it is obviously one of the most environmentally-friendly marketing tools. And with such a variety of channels, from PPC to webinars, we are spoilt for choice, so let’s use it!
To DM or not to DM
DM remains surprisingly popular and is often considered a vital support for digital. A more personal approach, DM generates a response rate of 79% – recipients who read or skim DM sent to their homes (DMA 2010). The 3 Ds to remember here are: Do use paper with a high recycled content and vegetable or soy inks, with no laminate, varnish or spot UV; Do avoid printing too much collateral which goes out of date quickly; Do personalise your DM to maximise efficiency.
Dedupe that Database
Databases are a necessary evil in the world of the marketer. To avoid pointless waste of DM material or telemarketing calls (just think how much time and energy you are using to make that extra phone call that could be better used elsewhere…), make sure that your database is as clean as possible and remove any returned mail from it too. Effort, but worth it.
For your finale event to celebrate how environmentally-friendly you now are, take note of the following tips to keep you on the straight and narrow. 1. Pick somewhere close by, not just so that it’s, shall we say, easier to get home afterwards, but also to save on CO2 emissions 2. Use biodegradable cups, plates etc. 3. Publish handouts, brochures and other collateral online 4. Check the venue provides organic food / drink, recycles their waste and will recycle yours too at the end!
TOP 10 TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF MAR-COMMS!
ONE: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Getting your targeting right is the holy chalice for all successful marketers- eternal life not quite, but you’re giving your marketing campaign a serious chance of success! Knowing your audience is ultimately more important than any “big idea” and becomes the crux of any worthy strategy. Successful campaigns are built on understanding your audience’s needs, whether they are tactical short term or strategic long term ones. Define how you can help meet those needs and how to create demand. Incorporating proper market segmentation puts you in the driving seat and gives you a benchmark against which to judge ideas and even whole campaigns.
TWO: IS THERE A PROPOSITION?
What can you offer that is different from anyone else? How does your product or service stand out from the crowd? How can it fulfil the needs of its customers better than its competitors? These are all vital questions to ask in order to define your USP. Having a distinct proposition facilitates a marketing offer, which has been proven to be the most successful criterion for conversion. To arrive at your USP, ask your clients why they use you. What do they value the most about what you do. It is rarely what you think it is.
THREE: DON’T SELL ON PRICE
Believe in your product. If you do, then you should also unequivocally believe that it should be sold on more than just price alone. Offer value instead. Focusing on price alone can lead to a discounting war, lower profitability and often bankruptcy. The key is to create so much value that the perception of price becomes insignificant.
FOUR: 2 BRAINS ARE BETTER THAN 1
Anyone can have an idea, spark off an idea or grow an idea. You can never anticipate which scrap of flaky brainstorm residue will suddenly grow into a powerful ‘big idea’. Work alongside other creative people, open a dialog and stimulate each other. Do not disregard ideas or thoughts - keep them flowing. That amazing Cannes Grand Prix idea may arrive when you least expect it on the bus home that night, but the seed may have been sewn in an earlier discussion.
Integration really does work best! Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. People do not limit themselves to just reading advertisements in the press or catching the latest gossip on Facebook, so roll out your campaign across various platforms and play to their strengths, building your reputation, awareness and sales. Consistently abide by your agreed campaign strategy. Use the right vehicle for the right purpose: Social Media to educate and inform, PR to build reputation, and advertising to build awareness and drive sales on and offline.
The creative, messaging and strategy of every piece of communication should be consistent. The user experience should be the same in a leaflet in New Zealand as a website offer in New York City. This may seem obvious but it is a hard discipline to maintain. You will get local variations, language and other differences but fundamentally it needs to reinforce your core values and messaging.
Testing is a must before running any campaign. A split test allows you to simultaneously test two versions of something, essential for improving performance. Testing should be considered for each marketing discipline, drawing on different methods. Websites are great for testing multiple propositions and monitoring effectiveness via click through rates.
This is heavily linked to testing in that if you skip this step you have no way of knowing the success or failure rate of your campaign. There are numerous ways of measuring for each marketing discipline, both old and new media. Social Media and online surveys are very effective low cost ways of monitoring campaign efficacy. Feed the results back into the campaign and refine it to maximise your ROI.
“Good manners don’t cost a thing”, your mother no doubt taught you, way back when...
Now this should invoke more than just a nostalgic trip down memory lane. In fact, bad manners really can cost your business money! Have the utmost respect for your clients and suppliers in equal measure. Your enthusiasm and attitude towards others can often be transferred to your campaign, giving you the gravitas with your audience that you yearn for. People want to work for nice people and buy from nice people. Get your personal approach right and your business will follow.
TEN: ALWAYS LEARNING
We work in an ever-evolving industry, where no day is the same. That’s why we love it - right? Embrace change! Educate yourself in new trends, new media, new competitors and new technology. No marketing campaign is perfect and no marketer knows it all. Stay on the cusp of everything new and fresh; take perspectives and opinion from those who, like you, are at the cutting edge too.