A Communications Minefield: 5 things marketers hate hearing from their agencies

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.

We’re all in the communications industry, right? Communication of some form, at least – creating it, planning it, buying it, commenting on it or monitoring it.

So how come we’re often so bad at communicating with each other, across the agency-client garden fence?

A gap in communication

Too often, agency staffers do not pay enough respect to the intuition of the client; or, even worse, they phrase an innocent comment in a way that is highly likely to be misinterpreted.

They haven’t read their clients properly, are not enough in tune with the people they’re dealing with and have not adapted their communication style accordingly.

And when this happens, and it backfires, the reaction is frequently similar to one of my favourite and most cherished comedy characters – Father Ted’s innocent, naïve and dumb side-kick, Father Dougall McGuire.

‘What’s the problem there, Ted?’

A lot of the time, Agencies simply don’t know when, or why, they’ve caused offence. Account leads are usually not strong enough to withstand internal pressure to communicate in a certain way (I know, I’ve been there), which wins the battle over their own common sense.

And if the client doesn’t speak up about it, the agency will forever be the Father Dougall of the relationship.

Here are five agency sayings that marketers hate hearing, and why.

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4 thoughts on advertiser / agency relationships – Audi and Holler

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.

The relationships between advertisers and their agencies are becoming more complicated and difficult to define. When they work well this junction of creativity and commerce can have a significant impact on both parties.

But what are the key criteria or ingredients for high performing advertiser and agency relationships? What are the challenges in managing these relationships? What advice do you have in regards to managing the relationship? And what changes will these relationships need to face in the foreseeable future?

Audi_Holler

Four thoughts on managing Advertiser / Agency relationships continues here with Audi Australia and their agency Holler.

Holler won the business in a competitive pitch run by TrinityP3 in 2012.

Since then the relationship has gone from strength to strength. Together, Kevin (right) and Mike (left) have overseen the development of the award winning work in the last Land of Quattro campaign.  

This then kicked off an increase in Holler’s service offering with Audi to include CRM & Data. 

Audi Australia: Kevin Goult, General Manager Marketing

Holler: Mike Hill, CEO

What are the key ingredients for great client – agency relationships that really matter?

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Why storyboards are the building blocks of production

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.

Storyboard

I found this article by Michael Grills who has a company called Big City Story.

Michael articulates the need for storyboards as a production tool far better than I can.

9 Ways Storyboards Lower Your Production Risk: by Michael Grills

I typically do storyboards for three different types of clients:

  1. Top level creative agencies
  2. High value e-learning companies, and
  3. AAA video game companies.

They have two reasons to call me.

The first is that they want me to add value and insight to a project, the second is to save money by lowering their production risk.

Most of the conceptualizing and problem solving for a video project is in the planning, which some people don’t want to spend too much time on. Yet the most expensive part is actually in the production.

Production requires many hands. There’s the director, the sound designer, the cameramen, the actors, and other important crew to get a shot done.

If your concept is just in your head and you get it wrong on set – or even worse, after the shoot – you’re not going to get your money back. You’re going to have to reschedule, reorganize, and redo the budget for the entire project.

Without pre-production conceptualization, you also risk miscommunication with the client. Remember that until it’s on a screen in front of them for review…it’s all been in their imagination. Suddenly their perception of the project might change dramatically. If you haven’t explained it well enough up to this point, they’re more often than not going to be very disappointed.

Here are the 9 ways storyboards lower your production risk:

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Metadata for socks. So where the bloody hell are you marketers?

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.

OK you got past the headline. Thank you.

I know this sounds like a dry and disjointed post already, however can I urge you to stick with me?

I’d like to roll up the sleeves and have a little chat about metadata.

Metadata - data about data

The Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and his ministers, are out there talking about it. Albeit a little confusingly.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) Assistant Commissioner, Tim Morris, tells us that “those with nothing to hide, have nothing to fear.”

And former United States National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, blew the whistle, saying that the NSA had been collecting and storing huge amounts of telephony metadata, including numbers called, and the time and length of calls but not their content.

So what the hell is metadata?

I often describe it as something similar to the library Dewy Decimal system which catalogues books based on subjects. However metadata is the data description and organising structure behind digital content but not the content itself.

 Metadata description and organising structure

It’s more the digital footprint left behind after making a phone call, sending an email, tweeting, or using any other online application.

You could say it’s the data about data. It can be descriptive, technical, rights based, or sustainable in the sense of preserving or sustaining information for later access or use.

However, metadata has nothing to do with the discussion of a phone call, subject of an email, or the name of a website someone visits. But, it does allow people to find if you’ve performed such an action.

For example a Tweet can be up to 140 characters, but the metadata behind it includes things like the time you tweeted, your location, the device you used, profiles of any people you mention, hashtags, and direct links to photos shared.

Ever lost a sock?

If metadata offers us humble human beings standards to organise and find things, then imagine if socks had a literal metadata footprint.

Imagine how we would simply locate and find every missing sock to our beloved pairs.

Metadata footprint for socks

Ever bought a pair of socks online?

And if you’ve ever searched for a pair of socks online, then you’d appreciate the use of metadata in HTML web content, used by SEO experts – to carry this example further – to ensure that the description of webpages that contain socks rank highly in any search engine that you’re using.

So where the bloody hell are you?

To coin a phrase from the Aussie chick, Lara Dingle, sorry Bingle, used in the controversial Tourism Australia Advertising Campaign, I’d like to ask all the marketers reading this “so where the bloody hell are you?”

Continue reading “Metadata for socks. So where the bloody hell are you marketers?”

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Marketing 101 – The myths and the dos and don’ts of marketing

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.

A few days ago I flew to Melbourne to co-host the ‘Taking Care of Business‘ podcast hosted by Jacki Mitchell.

‘Taking Care of Business’ is a dedicated radio business program live on RPP FM every Friday. The program focuses on all businesses big and small and is full of tips on marketing, finance, management, thought leadership and shares expert opinions along with insider knowledge on all things business.

RPPFM-Marketing Gurus

Darren Woolley (Co-Host), Marilyn Miller (Guest), Jacki Mitchell (Host), Stephanie Asher (Guest)

Topic of the day – Marketing 101

Jacki starts the program with an introduction on the topic of the day – Marketing 101.

Today we revisit one of businesses most popular and intriguing topics – marketing. This is an area that has gone through a lot of change particularly with the advent of technology, yet the basics still apply. A varied landscape for the novice and always heavily debated amongst professionals but there is no panacea.

Today we will explore the myths, realistic expectations, and the do’s and the dont’s of this vital business ingredient.

To help me tackle this enormous task I have called in a very special co-host to help me today and who other than the ‘Mr. Wolf” of marketing communications and named one of the most powerful people in marketing today – Darren Woolley.

In this 43-minute episode of ‘Taking Care of Business’, you will learn about:

  • Marketing – what is it and how is it defined in context?
  • The current state of marketing in today’s digital landscape
  • Brand promotion and the customer experience
  • Understanding marketing in the distribution and delivery of products and services
  • Digital marketing and social media for business

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Anatomy of an Agency Performance Review

This post is by David Little, who has been working in Procurement Category Management for 12 years within FMCG, Telecoms and Consulting. He has a special interest in Marketing categories, Procurement Leadership and helping others develop their Procurement skills.

Otto Preminger’s ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ (1959) is the genre of courtroom drama at its best: Jimmy Stewart plays a rural lawyer defending a man convicted in a revenge murder case. It’s a tense and dramatic film and was shocking at the time it was released, even facing bans due to its language and moral ambiguity. The artwork is cool and so too is Duke Ellington’s jazz soundtrack. I recommend it.

Lt. Frederick Manion: “How can a jury disregard what it’s already heard?”

Paul Biegler: [shaking head] “They can’t, lieutenant. They can’t.”

Despite the potential allure of a courtroom thriller, I don’t recommend conducting agency reviews as if the agency is on trial; it doesn’t guarantee a clear, balanced picture of events, and is focused on recriminations rather than resolution. So how do we stay away from blaming and accusations, and stick to rational discussion when conducting a decent agency review?

Regular performance reviews

Performance reviews are the culmination of a robust agency remuneration framework, identifying successes, failures and (importantly), allowing remedial action to get brands (and bonuses) back on track.

They should be done regularly with all agencies, and in a common format (with common frameworks and metrics for similar agency types) so that senior Marketing personnel can easily compare like for like. Unless you have specific Marketing resources, most marketers will be glad to hear that Procurement should be taking care of all the administration associated in arranging them.

So how should they be conducted? Well, there’s much you could put down to common sense and discipline, but for me the game-changer is coincidentally also the stamp of a skilful Procurement professional — you’ve maybe gathered how biased I am on the importance of Procurement involvement… bear with me though ­—the attitude of facilitator and, above all, a commitment to positive results for both parties.

The structure, content and style of performance reviews

And here are some tips for getting the structure, content and style right…

Continue reading “Anatomy of an Agency Performance Review”

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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.

Continue reading “Are advertisers paying for all the production bells and whistles?”

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