4 Key Aspects of Agency Liasoning/Life Cycle - Selection- On-boarding - Management & Renewal/Termination


Key mantras of Agency Management, Agency Liasoning, Agency On-boarding, Agency Selection, Agency Evaluation, Agency handling, Marketing, Sales, Communications, Advertisement, Media
Agencies are Partners... Off-course!


    AGENCIES ARE PARTNERS…OFF COURSE… Any doubts???

    Summary Snapshot of Agency Liasoning


    The campaign is a big success..!!.....cheers…all measurement parameters have exceedingly done well…..we have over-achieved the targets…woh…..great..๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘Œ…..the marketing team is flooded with praises…..the brand/campaign/communication/product manager is today trying to talk to everybody….people he also doesn’t generally talk to..๐Ÿ˜œ…..&…..trying to talk about how HE MADE THE CAMPAIGN successful…..

    The Head of Marketing is more level headed….he praises the entire team…..Marketing/Sales/Supply chain  etc. etc.….& says it’s a combined effort of the team…..what a leader….๐Ÿ˜‰……suddenly somebody (non-marketing) drops a question….."I think the agency made good creatives"…..the Head of Marketing is quick to reply …Yes…Yes …they did….we monitored them @ every step of this campaign…๐Ÿ˜Š….


    @ the agency side the account manager is keeping a smile on his face through-out….as it’s HE WHO MADE the campaign successful…the A/C MGMT DIRECTOR along with the CREATIVE HEAD walks into the cabin of the CEO of the agency, heads held high, this is another success story for the Agency…..kudos….๐Ÿ‘….The CEO talks about the next ABBY award may be…๐Ÿ˜….comes out & addresses the entire team of the agency about this latest success story….suddenly a trainee throws a question….”the marketing of this brand has always been strong”…..immediately the A/C Director points out…"Yes…it is….the people here have worked day-night to make this campaign a success"….๐Ÿ˜Š


    In 3 months, comes the next big campaign….gosh….something went terribly wrong…..the campaign was completely misinterpreted by the consumers…..๐Ÿ˜ง…..the results were far below the target….in-fact some customers moved to competition….bad mentions in many social media platforms….marketing budget wasted….๐Ÿ˜ฏ…the Head of Marketing along with the brand/campaign/communication/product manager is called by senior management & given the peace-of-their mind ๐Ÿ˜ฅ…& asked to produce a detailed report for the reasons for failure & corresponding measures in next 24 hrs.…!!.....The agency was immediately called @ the office….the A/C Mgmt. Director, the Creative Head along with the account manager of the agency is in the meeting with the marketing team of the client….well…needless to say…better stay-off the that meeting room๐Ÿ˜‚….result….one starts @ a sour-note for the next big campaign๐Ÿ˜ฒ

    This divide exists in maximum of the cases…. although both the parties…i.e.…the client & the agency are very clear about the final objective of enhancing the brand equity/sales target…. the problem lies in the WAY TO ACHIEVE the objective and not the final objective…!!

    Just a quick detour….agencies here refer to the Marketing & Sales agency which the company partners/or supposed to partner ๐Ÿ˜†….the domain of the agency can be complete 360 from creative, media, activation, PR, Market Research, Digital, Sponsorship etc...etc. in marketing to channel (franchise/distributor etc) appointment, sales tool enablement etc.…etc.. in sales. There can be further sub-division of work say for example…. digital can be sub-divided into performance marketing, SEO, social media marketing, website development, app development etc.…where there can be different agencies who can be on-boarded. Generally, two model of association are followed: either it’s on retainer... (generally yearly contract) or project-based agreements.

    Now let’s come back to our original discussion, if the WAY is the main factor…. let’s explore the WAY part further…let’s start from the start…. I mean when the client (company/brand) decides to have an agency on-board...๐Ÿ˜Š

    So, the brand decides to have an agency on board…. majority of the cases it then calls for an agency pitch (agencies are invited to come & present on a BRIEF which is given by the brand).

    Key mantras of Agency Management, Agency Liasoning, Agency On-boarding, Agency Selection, Agency Evaluation, Agency handling, Marketing, Sales, Communications, Advertisement, Media
    Agency Pitch & Selection ..... The "DIVIDE" starts her...

    The DIVIDE STARTS from here…. ๐Ÿ˜ณ …YES…it does…!!

    Agency Pitch & Selection—The Beginning…!!

    In the pitch, generally an evaluation matrix is made by the client…&…surprisingly majority of the times it’s not shared with the agency…๐Ÿ˜จ…..which means the agency comes to the pitch with their understanding of what parameters & the corresponding contribution of the each parameter, on which they will be judged……it’s like I am giving an exam without knowing which question has how many marks…๐Ÿ˜„….

    To make matters worse….very surprisingly….neither the parameters nor the contribution-per-parameter changes as per brand/company requirement….for ex…in the parameters/contribution-per-parameter of an well-established brand/company is almost same as that of recently launched brand/company in the same industry….or…..for a given company the parameter/contribution-per-parameter remains the same for an established brand to a newly launched brand (this is especially true for large companies who have different agencies for different group-of-brands).


    If the Business/Marketing/Sales strategy is different based on business/brand life-cycle…how-come the same difference is not reflected in agency evaluation parameters…๐Ÿ˜ฎ……so the result is….generally few agencies always get selected….๐Ÿ˜ต&….those are generally the big ones..!!...or at most the mid-sized ones…..which is a clear mis-match of the partnership……between the agency & the client…!!


    Furthermore…to add fuel-to-fire…..generally agencies have some excellent presenters…..who are seen mainly during pitches…..๐Ÿ˜ฒ….&….larger agencies have bigger group of those awesome presenters…..so they get selected @ maximum number of pitches….๐Ÿ˜ƒ….wait…it doesn’t end here….in pitches you get to meet the top-heads of the agency….the creative head/head-client servicing/sometimes the CEO also(for mid & small sized agency)……once the deal is sealed….many times they just vanish…..๐Ÿ˜†…. I mean…. the client sometimes needs to plan to see those guys again….๐Ÿ˜ฑ…. the result….
    • Few important points of the discussion/commitment stay in the books only….as the team which manages the account is many times not present/very poorly represented in the agency pitch...!!
    • In some cases, the review on the Strategy/Road-Map doesn’t stay so focused as planned initially & it really starts showing up, if the Marketing/Sales initiatives doesn’t deliver expected results.

    One recent genre…..a new group of agency has come-up who is trying to position itself as “WE DON’T PARTICIPATE IN PITCHES”…..although this positioning platform is not yet cluttered & reflects confidence…..&….it’s generally few industry renowned names who lead those agencies…..who claim to have a small number of clients & thus do better servicing & attention to the clients.…all good….but then….a gentle reminder to them….consumers prefer to buy the product after interacting with it…๐Ÿ˜Š

    There is a constant divide about how to measure the agency performance…. companies/brands have moved into a measurement matrix where there are 2 components…one fixed (retainer value paid monthly/quarterly) ….2nd a performance matrix, mutually agreed between the client & the agency, although it’s primarily made by the company/brand. 

    The question now comes, what should be the parameters in the performance matrix, on what scale it should be measured & what’s a good score ๐Ÿ˜ฆ. There is no correct answer to this, as the campaigns itself are so varied in nature, hence having only parameter matrix which “Fits-For-All” won’t work. So, what’s the solution??๐Ÿ˜ต …. 


    I suggest keeping the performance matrix for the agency a mix of certain hygiene agency deliverable like TAT etc…& keep the remaining things open for campaign-based measurement. One needs to clearly define the FLAGSHIP/BIG campaigns for the year, which is generally already done as a part of the yearly marketing plan. When one defines the measurement parameters campaign wise, then the role clarity in terms of what the agency has to offer for that campaign is also well documented which makes life easier for everybody. ๐Ÿ˜‚ …. all to be shared with the agency before the sign-off & with their buy-in.


    One last point regarding agency pitches--- the number of agencies called for the pitches.  Although there is no science to it…. but there can be some…what I call as… Method-to-Madness. I have seen companies calling more agencies for the pitch to get some ideas…. which brands later re-work & implement. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ. One needs to put a cap to the various buckets from where they are generally called…. (like past-experience of working with them, agencies with experience in same/similar fields, recommendations, agencies who have done remarkable work in recent past etc.…etc..,) to have quality time spent with every agency in the pitch.

    Agency Pitch & Selection --- Food for thought

    Key mantras of Agency Management, Agency Liasoning, Agency On-boarding, Agency Selection, Agency Evaluation, Agency handling, Marketing, Sales, Communications, Advertisement, Media
    Agency Pitch & Selection process


    • The shortlisting of the agencies to be called for pitch should have some Method-to-Madness with some initial profile mapping done from the client side before inviting the agency for the pitch
    • Evaluation parameter/contribution-per-parameter for agency selection needs to be tailor made as per marketing/sales requirement for a certain period…say for 3 years…if not 5 years
    • The evaluation matrix needs to be shared with the agencies well before the pitch along with the brief
    • The team from the agency side which handles the client account should be present during the pitch
    • The agency performance measurement matrix, once they are on-board, needs to be feezed during sign-off (just after the sales pitch), which should be more campaign based, with clearly defined deliverables campaign-wise, with the buy-in from the agency.

    Agency-On-boarding—First 45 days

    So now we have agency on board…oolllaaa….๐Ÿ‘….everybody is very happy…the client…..the agency……&…now starts a series of meetings between the client & the agency….main objective…..debrief agency on the actual status of the brand/competition etc.…etc.… & way forward…!!

    I have a simple question here…. when somebody joins in marketing/sales team…. what is the initial visible action for the new joinee…? He/she is told to SPENT TIME WITH THE CUSTOMER/MARKET…? In case of ecommerce business….he/she is told to again UNDERSTAND THE CONSUMER PROFILE/CHANNEL NUIANCES in that product category…(like own web, marketplaces, affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, performance parameter benchmarking etc. etc.)……then why is this not true for the agency๐Ÿ˜ฏ….why does the agency not do a comprehensive market visit/consumer understanding & make a report….based on which any further discussion happens

    Key mantras of Agency Management, Agency Liasoning, Agency On-boarding, Agency Selection, Agency Evaluation, Agency handling, Marketing, Sales, Communications, Advertisement, Media
    Inducing Agency post Selection... An important step
    Generally, the reason is…. the company feels they know everything about their market/consumer…. &..a 3rd eye won’t add much value & the agency feels they have enough technical knowledge (because they handle brands across industries or may have handled one of the competition of client’s brand in the past)….so give them a marketing challenge they will be able to come out with a solution.๐Ÿ˜ง…so net-net result….the agency starts working on the brand without being themselves directly updated with the current (and so future also) consumer/market trends…๐Ÿ˜Š. This generally starts showing when campaigns proposed by agency goes for MORE ITERATIONS…&…so FIRE-FIGHTING CONTINUES…. ๐Ÿ˜‡ …it doesn’t end here dear…. many-times the agency is not clear about the product architecture of the client ๐Ÿ˜ณ...& both the partners…. the client & the agency is equally responsible for it...!!

    Many of the retainer agencies (specially the marketing- creative/communication/PR etc.) are also responsible for internal communication….&…in maximum of the cases….they don’t know the key internal stakeholders๐Ÿ˜ฒ…which is their customer in internal communication๐Ÿ˜……..so internal communication is made just based on the brief & not taking care of the target-group’s taste, who is sitting right there..!!...NO…it’s not agencies fault alone….it’s both…client & agency...both.

    Agency On-Boarding--- Food for thought

    Agency On Boarding Steps


    • A comprehensive Induction program for the agency needs to be signed-off along with the retainer which has a detailed plan for the agency market visit/consumer understanding, product understanding, meeting other key departments/stakeholders, plant visits (if applicable).
    • The output is a report from the agency on their understanding which should be the starting point for the discussion between the agency & the company/brand for future

    Agency Management

    Key mantras of Agency Management, Agency Liasoning, Agency On-boarding, Agency Selection, Agency Evaluation, Agency handling, Marketing, Sales, Communications, Advertisement, Media
    Agency management 

    This is the place where the divide gets visible…. this is the place where it’s a make or break...!! Generally, if things discussed earlier are taken care-off….it should be @least a good start…. but having said that…. even a good start doesn’t promise a good future….๐Ÿ˜ƒ.

    Key mantras of Agency Management, Agency Liasoning, Agency On-boarding, Agency Selection, Agency Evaluation, Agency handling, Marketing, Sales, Communications, Advertisement, Media
    Key Mantras for successful partnership

    First things first, I have heard a lot of marketers saying they have the biggest names as their agency partners……well it does reflect some amount of credibility…but the fact that matters the most is……which is the team in the agency which is handling your account……among all those factors discussed till now…..it’s probably one of the most important factor that defines the success of the partnership. If you get the right team (@lest in terms of agility & responsiveness), even a not so known agency can deliver you output @ par/if not more than the big agencies…ok….THEN WHY DON’T WE FREEZE THE TEAM FIRST…..๐Ÿ˜ฎ……two reasons….

    Firstly companies/brand don’t demand it during the agreement sign-off……2nd reason….even when they do……the agency gives a reason it’s a part of their Staffing policy…..so they can’t commit…๐Ÿ˜‰. Having said that, few big clients (in terms of billing value) do have a say in that team, @lest for the key positions like account manager/creative guys.


    Furthermore, it’s equally important to know which are the other accounts the team is handling, the team which is managing your account…..else be prepared for surprises like…..I can start your job only after I finish the job of that client….or…..this iteration I can revert only after so many days as I have also to complete the assignment of that client etc...etc๐Ÿ˜‡

    Company/Brand should have a fair idea of the team from the agency who will manage their accounts & the number of other accounts the same team will be handling

    All customers are same & equal…. many businesses used to claim so……surprisingly few continue to do so….is it…. are all customers being equal….๐Ÿ˜†…..NO ITS IS NOT…..IT NEVER WAS….businesses value customers by the amount of business (sales/margin/sustainability) they generate with the exception of few strategic accounts where the final aim is again to generate more business…may be directly from that customer…or some other related customer ๐Ÿ˜Š. You as a business also do the same. 

    The agency is also a company with no exception to the said rule…. they also value bigger accounts (higher billing/higher margin/better sustainability) compared to other customer. In their case, the strategic account is that big brand where they can do a one-off campaign (where they have earned nothing) & put the brand name in their client’s list๐Ÿ˜‰…..what’s the gain….the gain is its easier to crack new customers as prospective customers value those agencies who have handled big brands.๐Ÿ˜Š. 


    This means, if you aren’t one of the tops few billing customers for the agency, chances are high, you won’t be their top-priority list in terms of servicing...!!๐Ÿ˜ฐ. Now, you can’t increase your marketing/sales spends just to be in the top-priority list of the agency….so the solution is to look for that profile of agency which matches your company/brand profile & spends…. many company/brands make the mistake here & the result is a foul partnership.


    Think you are a start-up & you have one of the top 5 agency on-board…. your business needs deliverable within 2 hours…. that agency, handling large brands, have deliverable timeline of 24 hours…. it’s a disaster then…never will there be an alignment between the two.

    Many clients do sign a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with the agency…few have exclusivity clause (agency can’t work with client’s competition brand while working with them….etc...etc.)……so agencies have found a way-out….they have formed so called their sister-concern to cater to the competition ๐Ÿ˜ฌ…the logic is….the teams are completely different….only the senior-most management is the same…..but…..it’s the senior-most management that matters๐Ÿ˜….NO…no-way I am trying to say it’s a malpractice…..i am only trying to emphasize a thread-bear analysis both by client & the agency together when such scenarios exists….which is almost NOT DONE now in maximum cases.

    The company/brand should match its profile, spends & then have agencies with similar profile as partners

    Creative Head….Wow…๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’š…..irrespective of the agency type……he/she is one to watch out for…..woooo……lots & lots of accolades/awards….&….with that lots of amazing work to show…..awesome๐Ÿ‘…wait a sec……where is he/she……I mean where…..do you see him/her……I remember he was there for the pitch…….then for the TVC……then for the 2nd TVC……then again for the 3rd TVC๐Ÿ˜‚……this genre…CREATIVE HEAD….is also required apart from the big ticket campaign like TVC..!!....but the point is he/she is generally not there apart from the big ticket item…๐Ÿ˜ณ…many times ITERATIONS end when the creative head gets himself/herself involved….but by then the time is lost..!!....Agencies do follow a “man-hour” pricing model, where they include the time of the senior management from agency side(like creative head)….but that is not enuf…is what my experience says…!!The problem increases with the agency size….

    Both company/brand & the agency needs to have a clear plan of involvement of senior management like CREATIVE head right @ the beginning of the contract…with a clear mandate on projects/regular involvement of them

    Last point regarding agency management, there is this species called BRIEF(a format in which the company/brand briefs the agency about the upcoming campaign to design), which gets all the flaks if the campaign is not successful….but nobody remembers it after a successful campaign๐Ÿ˜ฑ…..

    I have a simple request…..in case of dispute/disagreement about the BRIEF was right/brief has gone through too many changes etc...etc. for continuous iterations/campaign failure…..go back to that brief where both the company & the agency together delivered a successful campaign within timelines….please rewind how you did….what you did…..& follow it again this time with adaptations as required…..maximum chances are you will cross-the-bridge together ๐Ÿ‘


    Non-renewal of contract/Agency Termination

    Well, let’s take life easy…it happens lot of times….it has happened with you also….so breathe….both company/agency…..like there is a product-life-cycle….similarly there is an agency life-cycle…..so partners need to/will change over a period of time….to form new partners…..both for the company as well as the agency. This very spirit helps to match company/brand profile when selecting an agency…as the brand/agency moves in the life-cycle…it’s time to bid adieu & move to the next partner….if both of them have evolved in similar way during this time….the partnership continues…๐Ÿ‘….hence, it needs to be done amicably.

    In-fact with number of agencies increasing with growing marketing/sales focus of brands and new channels quickly developing…like digital…the future will have agencies who will be expert in particular part of the company/brand/product-life cycle….signs of the same are already there…for example agencies claiming to be meant for start-ups..!!..๐Ÿ˜ƒ….Agencies are integral part of the brand/product life-cycle & the client’s marketing team, right match always ensure partnership….welcome on-board






    C๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„L  if you have read ๐Ÿ‘†
    Will be C๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„LER if you comment๐Ÿ‘‡
    Will be C๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„LEST if you 



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