There’s no shortage of talk about industry consolidation, agencies of the future, and which business model will win out. But the truth is, it’s unlikely one marketing partner can do it all in our digital world. As brand marketers try to better serve their customers, they must often distribute work to multiple partners based on specific expertise.
Any way you slice it, a fully integrated campaign will likely require interagency cooperation.
Brand marketers that succeed in this multipartner environment require clear focus and direction in-house, as well as commitment and cooperation from their agency partners. How can you succeed? Be sure to cover these three main bases.
1. Know your priorities: Do you value creative above all else? Are you using your digital channels to support the entire customer journey, from acquisition to service to upsell and retention, and therefore require a rock-solid production environment? Every organization places a different level of value on different areas of their business. An iconic brand such as Coca-Cola probably makes a large investment in creative and above-the-line advertising to continue to drive its brand message and brand recognition. Meanwhile, a company like Zappos, which puts customer service front and center, is expectedly making different decisions when it comes to fulfilling on its key objectives around customer experience.
Putting an eye toward this type of focus might sound rudimentary, but it’s still a challenge many organizations face, especially as new social, mobile, and even virtual-reality tools pop up. No brand has the budget to invest in “best-of” agencies across all disciplines; it’s just not scalable. Your organization must be in agreement on what areas warrant this type of agency investment. This also means you’ll need to hire other agencies to help fulfill on additional needs. And someone needs to be responsible for managing those relations.
2. Have a designated project manager: In the world of digital and technology, agencies play a crucial role in your ability to deliver the best customer experiences and personalized marketing. But successfully managing agencies requires resources. An interagency project manager who is focused on P&L is critical to the success of your projects and business. For example, if your creative agency comes to the table with a big idea, you need to make sure your tech team is there to set realistic expectations about the cost to execute these plans. A project manager will help to ensure the right people have a seat at the table. Together, all three parties can ensure that smart decisions are made to keep the project in scope.
If you don’t have the resources internally to serve this role, designate an agency partner to do so. Don’t leave it to your partners to duke it out.
3. Set clear direction for your agency partners: Companies continue to evolve in the marketing and advertising space, and most are growing to offer a breadth of technology and services. This means your partners will come with many opinions about digital, direct, social, etc., and they’ll begin to compete to expand their scopes of work. You need to play an active role in articulating the requirements of each partner to establish roles and ensure alignment. I see this work best when interagency meetings are a regular occurrence to share ideas and agree on a consolidated approach. When you’re looking to bring in new partners, make it a requirement that they work with your other partners to jointly present a new idea. I’ve seen this work really well.
With the increased reliance on partners to succeed in today’s digital world, you need to be able to effectively manage these relationships to deliver the best experiences for your customers. Providers, too, need to be committed to interagency relations for the exact same reason.