Not-So-Lazy Days of Summer: Advice for Ad Agencies & Clients

Not-So-Lazy Days of Summer

Some agency-client work effort may seem to ease during summertime, but the 2016 planning season is on the marketer’s horizon.  And coming with it, the predictable rituals of iterative plans, process and robust information exchange. High performing marketing leaders are usually thinking ahead even when out of office and beach-combing. Savvy advertising agency partners will tune in early, participate more fully and reap the fruits of their efforts.

Most company marketing leaders have three parts of planning already on their mind:

  1. Strategic direction
  2. Financial budgeting
  3. Cultivating the resources they need internally and externally to get the job done

These topics are interrelated and synergistic considerations. Some leaders think about this in terms of Current State and Future State. Others layer in SWOT-type analyses to go deeper and unpack brand strengths and vulnerabilities. Some clients involve their agencies, while others keep their agencies at bay. Some organizations are more formal with plans created and reviewed from the bottom up, and others receive directions for planning assumptions from the top down. Growing companies have a consumer-centric or an outside-in approach to annual planning. Clients often review their agency rosters now to make sure they have the right capabilities in place for the new year.

Tips for Marketing Clients

  • Activate your agencies. Articulate your top 3 business/brand challenges for current agencies to address. Invite in their unadulterated and external views. Ask them to prepare and propose solutions that may in fact inform their 2016 scope of work.
  • Share year to date marketing /sales performance across key metrics. During planning season concurrently focus teams in on achieving the 2015 results that are most respected by the rest of the organization. This lifts mutual credibility and sets the stage for future change.
  • Provide agency performance feedback mid-year. Allow time for agencies to respond with more efficient ways of working towards higher quality outcomes. Address all performance problems directly.
  • Ask agencies for their latest thinking on your media mix allocation across mass and digital channels. Bravely embrace a new communication era.
  • Schedule enough quality time to give careful consideration to agency proposals. Preserve the ability to redirect funding for a few new potential game changing ideas.
  • Compensate agencies for high quality planning efforts and contributions. Their external perspective improves your decision quality.
  • Document your 2016 plan, goals and budget to improve understanding. Align internally within your organization and externally across suppliers.
  • Thank people individually, affirming the behaviors and actions that you value.

Tips for Agencies

  • Proactively prepare trend data for your clients relevant to their categories, segments and targets. Smartly interpret it and apply it to their businesses as only you can do.
  • Proactively identify three key process improvements for the ways that you work with their marketing teams, sales/channel organizations or other agency suppliers.
  • Proactively introduce to your client-side marketing leaders relevant alliance partners, resources or experts the agency has high confidence in to deepen your connections and expand your footprint.
  • Ask for feedback on where your agency currently adds highest value. Expand and cross sell your services from this position of strength. Respond to client concerns or problems immediately.
  • Proactively propose 2016 scope of work framed in two ways: capture theongoing level of agency engagement based on 2015 scope and or in response to client input; and secondly, proposed Incremental Development Initiatives. Structure the Development Initiatives to be menu-based programs /SOW with anticipated ROI.   Provide this idea rich and forward thinking two-part 2016 Proposal for your services sooner vs later for full client consideration, internal socialization and funding.
  • Thank people individually, affirming the behaviors and actions that you value.

Still need motivation?  Remember nothing tastes as sweet or satisfying as having turned ones lemons into lemonade.

It’s time to refresh.

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