Think Small…

At Agency Insight we work with companies large and small. From the biggest of global enterprises trying to get coherence to their brand and communications, to small and country locked established start-ups wanting stature to their brand marketing.

There are always common themes. With the very largest getting cross-country and cross-divisional co-ordination and co-operation is always difficult. The number of times we’ve heard “like herding cats” (and far worse) from clients about getting focussed change through, are legion.

Recently we managed a digital, data and automation selection through for a 100+ country client where global marketing was centrally based, and delivered by a team of fewer than 20 marketers. OK – it was a single product focus, but still with a heady mix of channels, life cycle management, huge acquisition targets and multi-country management.

It caused us to reflect on the nature of managing complexity. Not only in the process of agency selection, but also in the dynamics of how corporations deliver brand marketing comms.

In the consultancy we deliver for complex multi-country marketing operations, it is often characterised by:

A large number of stakeholders in both the agency relationships, and ownership of the brand and campaign briefs. From those who “own” it from a brand performance perspective, and those who are ultimately responsible for volume and product P&L.
Multiple viewpoints on what the primary aims of the agency and what campaigns should do – as above; brand equity build or rampant sales?
The different stages of development and channel/market maturity. Let alone cultural and economic factors.
“Not invented here”. Often for sound reasons (and sometimes not…). Why can’t I have my local agency, which understands what’s needed, how we work and responds within 3 weeks to any request or idea-creation?

Apart from a Doctorate in Diplomacy (or Cat-Herding), what helps getting in a more singular direction?

1. Invest time up front to get input. Getting it done from an outsider to the organisation helps. People are more than happy to say what’s wrong and how it can be fixed. Internal agendas are spotted and pointed out pretty quickly – people aren’t daft.

2. Build a proper timetable upfront and ensure people know about it. Getting that person from China to devote 2-3 days to your agency roadshow or briefing 2-3 weeks in advance, is just not going to happen. Bang goes inclusion.

3. Get a killer brief that all can see sense in. If things are going to be left out, then go back to the exponents to tell them why, and what other things are being put in place to fill gaps. Do this at the front end and not after the event.

4. Be absolutely clear on the criteria for selection, and corporate expectations of the agency. KPI’s, budgets available, and some sort of scope of expected work are also frequently absent from briefs. No wonder client–agency expectations and relationships strain and stray…

And one last simple thing. The best briefs, campaigns and relationships come from smaller groups of people who like each other, and not from large groups of people that don’t. But at least enacting points 1 to 4 about will get people to appreciate, and maybe accept, why a particular direction has been set.

 

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