Ten things stand out as priorities for agencies in today’s changing marketing game. Of course the mainstays of creative etc., are always important, but now things like Integration are critical too. Here are ten that are critical now.
1. Really understand the client’s business
I know that sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many agencies don’t study company organization, goals, structure and constraints, as well as the industry and competitive landscape. Brands are looking for agency partners to be an extension of their own team and get frustrated when they constantly have to school their agencies on what’s meaningful in their world. Agencies that don’t do their homework on a brand, or don’t stay up on the category are not doing their job.
2. Collaborate across the client organization, and with other agency partners
Sharing a vision and getting buy-in across departments can be tricky. Agencies can help by acting as the independent “voice of the consumer” and marketing across the organization. They should also be able to work well with other agencies because it’s becoming less common for brands to have one agency for everything.
3. Use owned, earned, and paid media in the right order
Agencies have a responsibility to be good stewards of their client’s budget and that means doing the harder work of using owned and earned channels before opting for paid media. The old agency model was built on big media budgets, now brands must have larger presences across diverse channels, often with smaller budgets. Agencies must know how to develop drive-to strategies across earned and owned media that don’t rely on big paid media spends to create awareness and engagement.
4. Use only the most effective channels to reach the target consumer
An agency’s only measure of success should be moving the client’s business forward. Use the media and channels that best resonate with the target consumer regardless of whether it’s in vogue or will win awards. Sometimes that means focusing on basics and sometimes it means taking risks. The key is ensuring strategies are justified by sound data and consumer insights.
5. Ensure that strategies are actionable and plan KPIs up front
A strategy not connected to organizational goals, or that does not align with the business and cultural realities of the company, is hard to justify. Agencies must also put in place metrics and Key Performance Indicators to measure marketing performance in a way that is meaningful to senior management.
6. Deliver insights from the integration of all sources of data
Agencies need to know how to integrate all of today’s complex marketing data, with social listening and more. This is where dashboards can put all these metrics together to deliver a unified view of the consumer, the campaign and the market.
7. Develop an integrated content strategy
We all know content is the new marketing currency, so having a good content strategy is more critical than ever. This involves more than deciding what content to create and where it lives, agencies must develop strategies that consider the context in which content will be consumed, and the user behaviors in those situations. That way they can determine exactly what content, in what form, should be presented to each consumer at every touchpoint.
8. Create connected, shareable brand experiences
Every day there seems to be more touchpoints added to the consumer journey, but with data and insights we can connect them in meaningful ways. Your brand is a reflection of the consumer’s cumulative experience across all your brand touchpoints, it is therefore your obligation to unify your brand experience. This is critical work that your agency should lead.
9. Integrate marketing with sales
Technology has not only changed marketing, is has changed how companies do business. The agency therefore needs to drive the integration of marketing and previously separated disciplines such as sales. The power of personalized marketing is enabling agencies to leverage technology that provides the connective thread between sales and marketing in ways that unify the experience for both the consumer and the company.
10. Be the visionary and the teacher
Our clients are busy and look for their agency to provide them with what’s new and relevant to their business without having to ask. This is one of the easiest things to overlook as an agency, but as a good steward of the business the agency must bring informed points of view to the table, about trends and technologies, which can move the business ahead. At the same time the agency should be responsible for arming brand marketers with the tools they need to justify marketing investments and the narrative to explain how modern marketing works and why.
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