The State of Agency-Brand Relationships - Uwe Hook

By Uwe Hook Archives
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Under the title "More gain, less strain: Optimizing marketing partner performance and value in a digital world", the CMO Council published an analysis of how marketers are optimizing marketing partner performance and value in a digital world.

It's not a pretty picture

· Just 9% of marketers believe traditional ad agencies are doing a good job of evolving and extending their service capabilities.

· 58% of marketers are unsatisfied with the current process of measuring their agencies' advertising effectiveness.

· 55% of senior marketers do not systematically evaluate creative impact, and 58% are unsatisfied with the evaluation process associated with benchmarking their agencies' creative advertising effectiveness.

· Only 36% of marketers are committed to their agency relationships, with 49% saying that they may consolidate or change their global agency rosters.

· 32% are looking at selective replacement in their agency rosters, 9% see increased turnover of resource, and another 9% are decreasing the use of agencies.

A small bright spot in a dark environment

Marketers are continuing their search for new insights: 48% consider the most important value and gain from outside agencies fresh ideas, analytics and perspectives. 39% are looking for new methodologies and creative approaches.

When reviewing and evaluating agency relationships, the majority of multi-national marketers look at strategic contributions (57%) and business value created (56%).

The frustration is palatable

The survey respondents also ranked the top five causes of pain and friction in their agency relationships: (in order)

· Lack of an agreed-upon set of analytics and metrics that defines success and failure

· Limited knowledge and comprehension of the client's business

· Lack of value-added strategic thinking

· Pricing and budgeting issues

· Integration of marketing plans and services

Do marketers get what they pay for?

As we all know, marketing expenditures are under incredible pressure from CMO's and procurement. While marketers complain about lack of knowledge and comprehension of their business, they don't seem willing to pay agencies to acquire this knowledge.

A lack of knowledge and comprehension will lead to lack of value-added strategic thinking. The agency might be able to give out some creative candy, but no filling, strategic meals.

Being so unprepared to market a client's business, the chance of success is diminishing and there's no benefit in succinctly defining failure and success.

Ultimately, resulting in pricing and budgeting issues.

It takes two to tango

Marketers have to understand that agencies are not lazy or disinterested in learning about the client's business. Structurally, the client-agency relationship is not set-up for such a learning experience.

On the other hand, agencies need to set parameters for success and failure at the pitch. The pitch meeting should be the occasion where both parties set expectations, discuss challenges and solutions. It should be less about fireworks, grandiose creative and big promises. More about business decisions, culture check and partnership processes.

The current pitch meeting with all its confetti is best suited for a fling. As any married couple with a few decades under their belt will tell us, confetti gets annoying after a while. Long-term relationships are built on trust, transparency and authenticity. No confetti needed.

Uwe Hook is the CEO and Co-Founder of BatesHook, Inc. (www.bateshook.com) and a veteran of the advertising and marketing industry with the goal of building connections between people and brands. Uwe can be reached at uwe@bateshook.com.

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