Hey agency, before you say yes to a pitch, you should Pitcherator it

This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.

Back in 2010 (OMG that is five years ago) I shared a list of the top ten questions agencies should ask before they decide to participate in a pitch. It was from a significant industry authority – David Ogilvy himself and can be found in his book “Confessions of an Advertising Man”.

Well it is time to update these important questions.

And, as today everything is digital, it appears that in 2015 they can now ask and answer these questions online with the Pitcherator.

Pitcherator

The Pitcherator provides the ten questions to be answered by the agency CEO or Managing Director online and then it rates if the pitch is worth pitching for. Developed by dn&co in London it raises important commercial questions that should be considered including:

1. Have you met the client?

Have they committed to talking it through with you and answering any questions? Or did they send you the brief cold and only want to see you on the day? They should want you warmed up not just showing up.

2. Have you worked with the client before?

You have an advantage if you know what makes them tick… or ticked off. Also, you may be able to understand the bigger picture.

Posted in agency remuneration / compensation, agency search & selection, agency solutions, interesting observations, marketing procurement, return on investment | Leave a comment

Why a well managed Agency search is more critical than ever

This post is by Stephan Argent, CEO of Argedia Group and a member of the Marketing FIRST Forum, the global consulting collective co-founded by TrinityP3

If you’ve ever undertaken your own agency search, you know they can be disruptive, costly and confusing exercises. Agency searches need to be well planned, carefully coordinated, and skillfully structured to deliver the best possible outcome for both marketer and agency.

Manage Agency Search

But if you’re thinking about an agency search or even about to pull the trigger on one, and are thinking, “Come on, how hard can it be…?” – here are some thoughts you might like to consider:

Do you understand your own organization?

It’s not uncommon for marketers to call an agency search because they believe their requirements have evolved and their incumbent agency can’t support them moving forward. Fair enough. But do you really understand your own organization and the shortcomings you have within your own marketing teams – and in particular how that might be impacting your current agency relationships?

Are you prepared?

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is getting caught up in the actual search and not preparing properly beforehand. Some examples might include: How and when to talk to your incumbent agency, managing incumbent contracts, who to include on your search team, executive approval process and a well thought-out transition plan.

Do you know the market?

Keeping track of familiar agency names, who’s joining or creating new start-ups, who’s merged and who’s been acquired, requires a thorough understanding of the market. You also need to be familiar with which agencies have grown or bolstered their services to provide additional offerings. And even if you have your eye on an agency or two you really like – are you aware of potential client conflicts that might prevent them participating?

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When money talks in a pitch, why does everyone else shut up?

This post is by Nathan HodgesTrinityP3‘s General Manager. Nathan applies his knowledge and creativity to the specific challenges of marketing management, with a particular focus on team dynamics and behavioural change.

The ‘race to the bottom’ accelerates

We’ve all heard of the pitches where price is the overriding factor.

You’d think they’re the kinds of pitches most right-thinking marketers and agencies would try hard to avoid, work hard to call out, and fight to prevent.

When money talks in a pitch, why does everyone shut up?

As we all know, when the game is simply ‘lowest price wins’, the glory of new business success for an agency soon turns into the dull grind of servicing turnover with no profit. Incumbent agencies, if successful, face two to three years of resource reduction and reassignment in a desperate and usually unsuccessful effort to recover their numbers.

Client teams, once the glow of the new deal has faded, soon wake up to the reality of a disengaged, overworked and demotivated agency team being progressively replaced by ever more junior people, until finally something gives and the grim pitching cycle is repeated.

This is every bit as bad as it sounds. It’s the opposite of marketing innovation and creativity. It strips the marketing industry of the skills and talents and resources it needs to compete. It accelerates the ‘race to the bottom’ so bemoaned by agency heads throughout 2014.

So why is there still a deafening silence from marketers and agencies when they’re actually involved in pitches that are, indeed, all about the money?

Could it possibly be the money?

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Are advertisers paying for all the production bells and whistles?

This post is by Clive Duncan a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. As a Director and DOP he has an appreciation for the value of great creative and outstanding production values, while also recognising the importance of delivering value for money solutions to the advertiser.

I have recently noticed that many production companies are adding equipment and crew that are not required, and are thus over-resourced for the level of production needed to produce a TVC as storyboarded.

TV production crew

Do you need to be prepared for any creative variation?

With the demise of 35mm film as the main capture medium for the commercial world, cameras have become lighter and natural light has become a viable light source. This means less equipment and less crew.

The feature film equivalent is the main unit that has all the bells and whistles crew and equipment wise, versus the second unit. The second unit has less crew and less equipment and yet they can produce footage and whole scenes that can be cut into the footage produced by the main unit without any loss of quality (artistic or technical).

Feature film main units carry the full complement of equipment based upon the premise that film making is an organic process and they need to be prepared for any creative variation that the director or even an actor may throw at them.

In the commercial world things are different. Every frame should be storyboarded but this does not mean that creativity has to be stifled by the TVC process, it is just that creative variations should be discussed and embraced, or rejected before the shoot. This means that no unnecessary equipment or crew is factored into the budget and no time is wasted shooting footage that will not make it to the cut.

Why are crews with all the bells and whistles in a budget?

There are several reasons why the crew with all the bells and whistles are in a budget. One is the director requires the full deck for his or her own ego as they want what mainstream feature film directors have at their disposal on a shoot, or they just feel safe in a crowd. It is usually the high-end “name” directors that demand over scale crews.

Some directors like to surround themselves with wisdom and experience thus they favor an over scale crew. As an advertiser you also may need some extra wisdom and experience. Fortunately, you do not need an entire film crew, usually just one person with the right experience will suffice.

Sometimes it is even the agency that wants a “Hollywood” crew to perpetuate the myth that film making is a labour intensive industry and this is why their clients have paid big dollars in the past and this is why their clients will continue to pay big dollars into the future. I myself have been asked by an agency to supply a full bells and whistles crew so that the client would feel “special”. When I informed the agency that a full bells and whistles crew would cost an extra $7,000 the agency soon lost interest in that “special” feeling.

Some producers are now employing multi-skilled crew members to help control costs, for instance, one hair and make up person or a director / cameraman and the rise of the gaffer / grip. Once where there was a camera truck, a lighting truck and a grips truck there is now only the equipment van. The producers that embrace the multi-skilled crew and know exactly what equipment is required can make or break coming in on budget.

How do you know when unnecessary equipment and crew are in a budget?

So how does a marketing or procurement person, or even the agency creative or producer, know when unnecessary equipment and crew have been factored into a budget? Well, unless they have extensive production knowledge then it is impossible to know.

Even if they have some reason to suspect that the budget has been loaded with unnecessary equipment and crew, the production house producer will usually reply that these extras are necessary for logistical reasons or they are union requirements.

These excuses in many cases are just not true.

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Picking the next winner? All trends are overrated says Peter Thiel

This post is by Stephen Molloy,  a leading authority on digital and mobile apps, partnering with the best and brightest in the field from across the world to deliver solutions for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows. 

Last week a small group of us got to tune into a live stream from New York. Peter Thiel was launching his new book Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. Many things were discussed from disruption models to the future of sustainable food.

Zero to One

Lessons from Entrepreneur Peter Thiel and his new book

If you want to create and capture lasting value, look to build a monopoly, says Peter Thiel. Other big statements were made in this morning’s live stream for his latest book Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 2004 then you’ve probably heard of Peter Thiel. If you haven’t heard of him, then you’d definitely have heard of PayPal, Facebook, LinkedIn and AirBNB to name a few companies he’s started or has been an early investor in.

He’s an interesting guy with lots of stories to share which sometimes go on a tangent and can end up talking about space travel and living to 120. Possibly the most controversial concept that Thiel explores is his belief that capitalism and competition are opposites, while they are traditionally expressed as synonyms.

“A capitalist is someone who accumulates capital, a world of perfect competition is a world where the capital gets competed away,” he said.

Trends

“All trends are overrated”

Peter Thiel describing many startups which only have a lifespan of a couple of years. He invested in Facebook because it was different to most social media platforms and trends at the time. Most social media websites had nicknames or avatars or other identity code names, Facebook was different as it was linked directly to the genuine individual.

Disruption

“Disruption is not a great word, you should set out to make a company successful. Napster was disruptive to the music industry and in many ways they achieved their goal, they were on the cover of Time magazine. A year later they were shut down by the American Government.”

Competition

“We all get addicted to competition”

Continue reading “Picking the next winner? All trends are overrated says Peter Thiel”

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A cynical view of the on-going media agency saga?

This post is by Nathan HodgesTrinityP3‘s General Manager. Nathan applies his knowledge and creativity to the specific challenges of marketing management, with a particular focus on team dynamics and behavioural change.

Cynical Industry - see,speak,hear no evil

I did a lot of work with party political clients in the nineties. It was great fun a lot of the time, and I learned plenty from some very smart operators.

As a natural optimist, it also left me rather more cynical than I like to be about the contrast between public and private behaviour.

Ever since, I’ve had to make a bit more of an effort to remain Mr Brightside.

But the last week or so the media world has proved a bit of a challenge for someone who always likes to see the best in the industry and its people.

If I were allowed to unleash my inner cynic just for a moment, I might make three rather cynical observations.

Continue reading “A cynical view of the on-going media agency saga?”

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Do digital technology advances call your marketing actions into question?

This post is by Anton Buchner, a senior consultant with TrinityP3. Anton is a lateral and innovative thinker with a passion for refocusing business teams and strategies; creating visionary, data driven communication plans; and making sense of a more complex digital marketing environment.

TrinityP3’s first Blog Post Up:

The interweb lit up recently with speculation that Apple is building an electric car – dubbed the iCar. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.

What we do know is that Apple is rolling out CarPlay with Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Ferrari and Honda, aiming to ‘own’ the dashboard space.

iCar-CarPlay

CarPlay is a concept where you dock your iPhone into your car and the interface pops up on your car’s existing display area. You can use functionality like Siri and Maps to play music, navigate to locations, make calls and send text messages based on voice activation.

And in April, Apple launches its much anticipated smart watch aiming to ‘own’ your wrist. AS if owning your finger wasn’t enough!

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Mediacom Saga – The ‘Road To Recovery’ starts with all of us

This post is by David Angell, General Manager of the fast-growing Melbourne market, and national Head of Media at TrinityP3. In these roles, David brings his media-specific, broader commercial and relationship expertise to bear on a diverse range of projects, with one core objective – achieving beneficial results for our clients.

For those of you living in an industry-proofed cave over the last week, The Mediacom Saga has once again run red hot across the trade press, as the results of the audit into trading practice at the agency were released to the waiting world.

Mediacom saga

The level of debate has reached fever pitch over the confirmed revelations of inappropriate behaviour within Mediacom, going against both basic ethics and the avowed standards of their own parent group.

Now let me say right now (and I don’t think I’m the first to do so) that Mediacom, in the situation they’ve found themselves in, have acted with a level of openness and integrity that can only give them back some credit. John Steedman and Mark Pejic, two widely respected individuals, are transparent and honest in publically accepting the situation for what it is.

But ‘some credit’ is obviously insufficient to repair the serious damage done to the agency’s reputation, not to mention the delicate trust-balance between agency and clients (all of them). Mediacom has responded by a tightening of process, which, let’s face it, is the only thing that can be done, at least in the immediate term, to begin a road to recovery.

None of us can escape the fact that this exposé raises more questions than it answers – some of which are far more constructive, and productive, than others.

A lot of the commentary, ably assisted by one American heavyweight, has been around AVBs and AVB on-selling, media credits and assorted industry kickbacks. Such commentary is valid and parts of it (AVB in particular) are directly relevant. But the coverage is inevitably snow-balling into a big explosion of an original issue which, at its base, was directly related to a ‘front of house’ and, on any other day, relatively mundane procedure – the post-analysis reporting of TV campaigns.

The back of house stuff sells papers, so to speak – I get that. But ultimately, to extend a very old fashioned analogy, it’s likely to end up as tomorrow’s chip-wrapping. The ‘front of house’ piece needs some more thought, both now and after the headlines have gone away.

There are a lot of questions that should be addressed. Here are just four of many.

Continue reading “Mediacom Saga – The ‘Road To Recovery’ starts with all of us”

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7 steps to improving your multi-agency output

This post is by David Angell, General Manager of the fast-growing Melbourne market, and national Head of Media at TrinityP3. In these roles, David brings his media-specific, broader commercial and relationship expertise to bear on a diverse range of projects, with one core objective – achieving beneficial results for our clients.

The ever-evolving ‘Agency Model’

If there’s one debate that seems never-ending, at least as long as I can remember, it’s that old chestnut of ‘what agency servicing model works best’.

We’ve gone from media departments in advertising agencies rising up to become their own entities, to the digital departments in media agencies rising up and doing the same thing, to the social media function, the performance digital function and any number of other specialisms rising up and…well, you know the rest.

The Mediator

Specialists, one Stop Shops, and all things in between

At the same time as specialist fields, and therefore specialist agencies, increase in number, traditional media agencies are still claiming many different kinds of digital smarts. Now content ability, brand planning strength and any number of other expansions are being added.

Advertising agencies are starting to sniff at media planning and buying (such as M&C Saatchi contending the 2014 Commonwealth Bank pitch). Some agencies have completed the full circle journey to ‘full service’ with a modern twist (Cummins Ross is a good example).

And I haven’t even mentioned the word ‘data’ yet.

Confused, much?

Agency rosters are getting bigger, inter and intra-agency groups working on the same client are getting more complex as the grey areas between them increase. Clients, in my experience, are getting more confused. What is it that each of their agencies does, is capable of doing, or should be doing?

I empathise with those clients who’ve said to me over the years that this proliferation of expertise causes them management nightmares, as different agencies in the same group try to ‘push their own boundaries’ (for this read ‘cut the lunch of others’).

It isn’t always particularly pleasant from the agency side of the fence either. Many agency leads are under intense pressure to expand their own businesses. Balancing the internal needs with the external is by no means easy.

The fine line between competition and collaboration

Some believe that overt inter-agency competition creates better work. My personal opinion is that a group of rostered agencies brought together without proper leadership and parameters engenders mutual suspicion, tense meetings and a lot of time worrying about the wrong things.

Team members in these circumstances, to use a tennis analogy, tend to tighten their racquet arms and hit their shots wide. Better work? Not guaranteed.

So how do marketing teams cut the inter-agency feuds and get the best out of multi-agency groups?

Whilst I don’t want to dump all of this at the door of the marketing client, the truth is that in many cases, weak agency management from said client is one (I stress one, not the only) root cause for inter-agency problems.

When running with multiple agencies working in a collaborative group, clients need to understand the reality: that if you throw competitive beings from competitive agencies working in grey areas together, it’s going to cause issues. Without the necessary direction, it’s going to cause even bigger issues. The most important person in solving in the best possible way is that person who hired the agencies in the first place.

Lead from the front – but don’t do it alone

Yes, it’s your responsibility to get the best outcomes from your agencies. But the agencies do of course need to take responsibility for, and be on the bus with, a shared purpose.

To be optimal, there needs to be a fine balance between directive leadership of consultation with guidance from your agency partners.

Here are seven suggested steps to improve the output of your agency group:

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Using a strategic tool for better client agency relationships – Case study

The Situation:

The Evalu8ing client had just entered into several new agency relationships including a new lead creative agency and a new media agency. They felt that communication, collaboration and project management between all teams, including themselves, was unsatisfactory and would ultimately compromise the effectiveness of any future brand strategies and campaigns unless addressed.

Evalu8ing Group

Objectives:

  1. To use the Evalu8ing tool and process to measure, manage and maximise the performance of all relationships in the client’s marketing ecosystem. Being able to survey up to 8 groups, Evalu8ing provided the perfect platform not only for the client now, but in the future as other partners could be brought in to help deliver their marketing requirements especially in digital and data management.
  2. To put in place a formalised 6 monthly health check on all relationships to maximise open communication and address issues before they became detrimental to the health of any relationship or the business.
  3. To give all members of each team a chance to participate in the survey and have their opinions heard.

The Scope:

TrinityP3 worked with the client to:

  • Diagnose the relationship status and advise on key categories to survey.
  • Advise on the final list of questions, developing new ones where required.
  • Manage the survey – participants and questionnaire distribution and completion.
  • Analyse the survey and provide a final report of quantitative results, commentary and key observations.
  • Facilitate a two-hour multi-team workshop to address the key observations and agree action points.

The Approach:

The process began with defining the marketing ecosystem. In this case the marketing process was initiated within the business and managed by a centralised group marketing function, responsible for the engagement and management of the agencies.

Continue reading “Using a strategic tool for better client agency relationships – Case study”

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