Five Client Needs Ad Agencies Can Fulfill in 2015
Clients value their advertising agency teams and performance in obvious ways. Yet there are some unsung client needs that can inform every agency’s play book. Agencies with good field position can provide these important contributions to their clients to deepen the ties that bind them, insulate themselves from competition and build upon another winning season.
Scouting for Talent
Marketing leaders need top-tier talent but are often constrained by internal hiring protocols, lead times and salary grade systems. Every company has open positions. Most leaders want to develop their bench strength. Referring outstanding candidates into a client company to solve a resource problem is a highly respected way an agency can contribute. Quality referrals accelerate a marketing leader’s lead time to placement and serve to keep their talent pipeline full. Consider the fit between a candidate’s value system and a client’s organizational culture as a key factor in a potential candidate’s agility. Cultural fit is where the magic happens.
A Digital Playbook
Clients continue to look to their communication agencies to lend insight into how they can transform their organizations into the data-driven, customer-centric brand marketers most clients aspire to be. Key questions on media spend mix, priority IT investments, social media strategies and engagement protocols, and integrated digital asset development are posed to marketing leaders continuously. Armed with bench marking data, industry best practices and an intelligent point of view often ghost written by their agencies, marketing leaders are better positioned to advocate for a strategic direction and the resources needed to improve their brand’s performance in the red zone.
Agencies that develop a feeder system of proprietary or competitive information to present to clients, interpreted and applied to their specific situation, become indispensable partners.
Hall of Famers
Clients rarely feel comfortable promoting themselves within their companies but are appreciative of accolades that come from external sources, especially those that build their reputation for subject or industry expertise; individual recognition positively impacts their credibility with peers. It also helps merchandise the marketing function efforts among stakeholders. Agencies that endorse their clients in social media, invite them to present at conferences or nominate them for vertical industry awards are seen as loyal advocates.
Quality presentation materials prepared by agencies help middle level marketing personnel sell-in recommendations at the senior and C-suite levels, grooming clients for more successful internal conversations. It’s always better for the agency to the have the proverbial seat at the table, but shy of that luxury, equipping marketing clients to create greater understanding among the top dogs is a key strategy to providing service and shaping success; it is in these venues that decision-makers ponder digital strategy but ultimately green light work, spending (and occasionally the desire to review other agencies in market).
Agencies have access to data, best practices and talent that their clients value. Hosting clients at the agency for continuing education opportunities knits together agency and client teams with shared perspective. Most clients also appreciate the opportunity to meet with other clients outside of their industry. Training days can apply to mid and entry level client personnel; roundtable and work-shop formats resonate with more senior client personnel. Given preferences for virtual work practices, should a client organization elect to send a team in person to the agency for training, the agency needs to deliver a quality experience; sessions should be rich with data and provide value, created with the energy and intention an agency applies to pitching a potential client.
A day well spent at the agency stadium can become a professional life experience that a client remembers for years (and jobs) to come.
The Blitz: Holistic Program Solutions
Clients seek agencies that they describe as “proactive”; agencies operate with thin margins and are judicious in creating work product above and beyond that which is contracted. Yet the keyhole to the next level of agency-client engagement is for incumbent agencies to conceive and deliver integrated, holistic micro-programs. Ones that solve specific business problems clients face without requiring enterprise-wide change, risk or millions of dollars. Client companies value well-constructed, small scale, pilot programs to test and refine. The good solutions are strategically grounded, consistent with the overarching brand strategy, targeted, measurable yet fresh and innovative in their own right. A menu-based proposal of holistic program solutions is a gift for clients.
Beyond the favor engendered by the well-placed effort, the roll out and expansion of a successful program is often a financial opportunity for the agency.
Motivate, Activate, Elevate
Sports in our culture offers spectators (not to mention couch potatoes) vicarious experiences with universal themes. The narrative of hard work and preparation, the strategy, the win, the loss, and emotional bond of teaming compels us to watch and wonder.
For those in our industry the coming together of client marketers and advertising industry professionals to create work product is no less fascinating. This dynamic is attributable to the engaging diversity of people, coupled with varying business models introduced to the fickle culture we try to engage. The impact of advertising on the economy is no less significant. Like sports, the opportunity for professionals to perform well and with purpose is always in front us.
In the words of former American football Coach Joe Paterno, the formula for success is pretty simple: “You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That’s the mark of a true professional.”
It’s always game time for advertising industry champions.