How agency websites are failing in their new business efforts

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.

We were recently engaged to assist a client undertake a search for agencies across a number of markets outside of our Asia Pacific base. Therefore we were unable to rely on the resources within our TrinityP3 Agency Register. Instead we undertook a comprehensive online review of agencies within the marketplace.
Agency website failures

The results were, to say the least, appalling. It appears that advertising, media and digital agencies around the world are failing in the most fundamental way to embrace possibly the greatest opportunity to market their agency and their services to new business prospects.

Our brief

We were asked to identify advertising agencies that had strategy, creative, digital and media capabilities in each of 12 markets. The markets were smaller, single, well defined in geography.

The brief also asked that we identify if they have case studies or examples of the type of work the client was looking for, and an indication of the size of the agency to determine if they would be capable of handling a project of this size.

This is fairly straightforward information that a prospective advertiser or marketer would be looking for in their search and selection process. Although we delivered to, and in fact exceeded, the clients’ expectations, it was a difficult and protracted process because of the flaws in so many agency websites. Here are the main ones we identified:

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How smart marketers are moving beyond the agency remuneration stalemate

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.

Suspend disbelief for a moment. Imagine a world where agencies are paid solely on the basis of commercial results. An ideal world where marketers can isolate the specific commercial contribution of each agency, and where agencies are empowered to focus on only the things that contribute the most. In this world, everyone makes the money they want.

Remuneration stalemate

Rather like the elusive Higgs Boson, although we all assume such a world must exist somewhere, it is difficult to observe for more than a very short time, and only in very special circumstances.

For those of us working in what we call the ‘real’ world, although we all say we’d love to do it, in the end basing any remuneration on results is just too hard, too controversial and too complicated.

Instead, the question of agency remuneration depends on budgets, head hours, rate cards, resource levels, scopes of work, mix of resource, overheads, estimates, mark-ups, disbursements, ad serving costs, payment terms, a large serving of guesswork and a dollop of gut feel. Maybe ROI might get a look-in now and again. Not often though.

Like most problems that first present as binary choices, there is of course another solution.

The Output-based Cost Model

The principle behind it is simple.

Instead of determining the costs of a piece of activity from the bottom upwards – and therefore pricing all the inputs required to achieve the result – an output-based approach forces a top-down view, and determines cost by the value of the activity to the business.

Here are five things this means in practice

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Why a CMO and Digital Marketing Manager engaged TrinityP3 for a Supplier Search

Client Category – Supplier Search

Challenging Problem:

The CMO and Digital Marketing Manager of a leading Australian construction, property and finance company contacted TrinityP3 to provide an independent and objective market search.

Supplier search and selection

 They were looking for specific digital suppliers that could provide the following skills:

  • Drupal web development
  • Website / landing page conversion rate optimisation
  • Paid performance search
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Digital / social advertising and remarketing
  • Paid eDM list acquisition

Solution:

TrinityP3 implemented its Supplier Selection Process – Market Search Service.

Given the client hadn’t been in the market for a while it was important to assess the size, skill-set, services, client base, market positioning, cost positioning, and overall suitability in order to give an informed perspective of suppliers and options available.

Process:

In order to provide the review of the market, TrinityP3 used the following process:

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Managing Marketing – Data, intuition and fact-based decision making

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 founder and global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Glenn Granger, CEO at Marketing QED, talks data with Darren and its role in informing fact-based decision making rather than simply relying on intuition. They discuss the challenges, processes and benefits of taking a ‘Math Men’ approach to marketing instead of the traditional ‘Mad Men’ style. And provide insights into why we work the way we do and how to improve.

GlennG

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or, follow Managing Marketing on Soundcloud or iTunes

Podcast transcription

Darren:

Alright, so welcome and I’m here today with Glenn Granger, CEO of Marketing QED which is a marketing effectiveness technology company. Welcome Glenn.

Glenn:

Hello Darren.

Using data to create marketing insights

Darren:

I’m really looking forward to this conversation because with my science background and then getting into marketing, one of the key areas for me has always been the idea of using data because in science, medical science, we used experimental data a lot as a way of being able to validate or get insights. But it’s an area in marketing that’s only really taken off in the last few years.

Glenn:

That’s right, yeah. Well I actually have a science and maths background myself and so bringing in those kinds of techniques to the business world was kind of a neat way for me to move from academia into the business place.

But you’re right, marketing has only really embraced analytics as a way of trying to create some value over the last, I guess, the last ten years really. There have been people pioneering with stuff for about twenty-five years, and I was lucky enough twenty-five years ago in fact, to get into this area but the reason really was twofold.

One was that the data wasn’t readily available a long time ago and the people with the skills and the know-how who had made that journey from the mathematics world into the marketing world were quite few and far between. But there was a guy.

Darren:

It was almost, sorry Glenn, but it was almost like two tribes wasn’t it? Because I remember thirty years ago, when I went from science into being a copywriter and in fact I wrote a blog about this, having a researcher there who had done quant, no, qual groups, talking about the statistical results from the qual groups of thirty people. I started talking about the statistical significance of it and everyone just looked at me like I was talking, sort of, Mandarin. They had no idea what I was talking about so there’s definitely tribes, isn’t there?

Glenn:

Definitely.

Darren:

You know, math men and mad men.

Glenn:

Yeah, exactly. And that distinction has actually broken down over the years because marketing has been pushed on the back foot to try to justify itself more and more.

There was a report done by Deloittes a good few years ago now, that actually questioned other executives in companies about what they thought of the marketing teams, and it didn’t make very happy reading because a lot of them said, “Well they just don’t seem to have any evidence for what they’re doing”. And so I think, and the recession as well, really has shaken people up and made them have to justify their budgets.

So I think what we’re seeing, is that coupled with a lot more people going to business school and/or business degrees of some sort, and then finding their way into marketing teams. There tends to be more of, should we say, an analytical education along the way.

The education system has changed a little bit so people are getting a taste of statistics and other things like that, so that’s what’s come to a head and then all the data has actually gotten a lot better as well.

Finding better ways to interpret data

Darren:

And technology is driving that isn’t it? I mean, we talk about big data because there’s lots and lots and lots of data.

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A silver bullet for using data and digital agencies to drive better marketing performance?

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.

It seems that every agency and technology provider is an expert. Yet why are so many ‘experts’ pulling marketers in dramatically different directions? Maybe for their self interest?

sliver bullet

Some agencies and technology vendors advise marketers to focus on marketing automation to target consumers based on behaviour.

Others say programmatic buying is the solution to automate and optimise media spend and ultimately become more efficient.

Others say focus on getting a single customer view with all the mass of available data.

And others say publish socially relevant content to build thought leadership and engage best consumers.

Confused?

What’s the right path to focus on for your business? Who are the right agencies and suppliers to have on your side?

There are plenty of great providers in the Australian market and offshore, however it is proving more and more difficult to get beyond the hype and promises to discover the real value that they can add to a business.

Should you have a strategic digital marketing agency on your roster? Should you appoint a technology agency and utilise open source platforms and applications? Or should you actually own the intellectual property and insource expertise?

And how much data should you really be collecting when other CMOs are saying that their organisation is ‘customer centric?

Helping find the answers

These are questions that more and more open-minded marketers are turning to TrinityP3 to help answer.

Over the past 12 months the team of digital consultants at TrinityP3 have worked on projects that can be summarised under 5 key areas:

1. Aligning digital activity to marketing strategy and KPIs

A CEO was questioning the value of their digital marketing activity, and wanted to challenge line managers to work more cohesively.

TrinityP3 was engaged to help conduct a ‘Health Check’ as to the current state of their digital marketing.

After interviewing 13 senior stakeholders, and reviewing 47 documents covering strategy, current data use, churn and other predictive models, dashboards and reports, lifecycle and trigger activity, as well as data flows and the technical architecture, we highlighted that there was no alignment to the marketing strategy.

In particular there were was no overarching governance or common KPIs in place to keep the activity on track.

Learning: There was no silver bullet, however without alignment of digital activity to your overall marketing and business goals, then all digital and data-driven activity will be underperforming.

We see this time and time again when we are engaged with marketers. Digital teams full steam ahead with activity, without aligning to the key business priorities and wider marketing department goals. The digital left hand doesn’t know what the marketing right hand is doing. Sound familiar?

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3 smart ways to make decentralised marketing structures perform better

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 grass is always greener.

Sometimes, if you read the marketing trade press, it seems that everyone in marketing is able to work unchallenged to champion their great cause on behalf of their fantastically co-operative business.

Greener Pastures Sign

Of course, those of us who spend any time working with marketers or in marketing know that it is not usually the case. Rare are the occasions where marketers have control of even more than one of the traditional 4 Ps of marketing.

So it’s important that marketers don’t just crusade for the expanded role of marketing within an organisation, but also that they focus on how to work with the reality of marketing  – for instance, in a successful company culture led by sales, product or finance, and where the marketing function is decentralised.

How do we make things work better for marketing within that context?

For the purposes of this post, I’ll focus on the three quickest wins that we see here at TrinityP3 – a common campaign development process, a tailored roster model and a simplified cost structure.

Facilitating a common campaign development process

In TrinityP3’s experience, where marketing is decentralised and working across multiple business units, varied stakeholder groups and a fragmented roster, then there are usually as many different processes as there are marketers and stakeholders working in the organisation. And even when there is an official ‘process’ written down and filed somewhere, there will be so many exceptions and individual work-arounds as to make it almost irrelevant.

This makes it very difficult for any single agency to work across more than one part of the business and in more than one communications discipline. This means there is no economy of scale for any partner agency – and that’s a problem because it tends to discourage the agencies that are capable of taking a discipline-centric, enterprise-wide view (in social media or data analysis for instance) from getting involved. The organisation misses out.

It also makes it very hard to attract, retain and appraise a high-performing marketing team. After all, if everyone is doing their own thing, then who is to say what’s right or wrong, or what’s good or bad?

The solution is deceptively simple – construct a draft campaign development process, then facilitate a set of agreed terms of engagement for every marketer, stakeholder and agency with – and this is critical – a clear set of expectations for every party at every stage.

Active participation and buy-in from the marketers doing the job is the key to this. It usually takes three to four weeks to implement – we did it for a tertiary education organisation earlier this year in less time, and a large construction company in rather more. And the benefits are huge.

Tailoring the external supplier roster model

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Why the Chinese have a more accountable understanding 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.

When we were first translating our TrinityP3.com website for our TrinityP3.com.cn website, there were a number of decisions that needed to be made.

As anyone who has had to translate Mandarin into English or English into Mandarin will know, there are many words and phrases in both languages that do not translate directly or completely in a way that leaves you completely comfortable that the full meaning has been communicated.

But for a marketing management consultancy, the translation of the word Marketing was important to get right.

Chinese for marketing

Marketing in Mandarin

Marketing is two characters营 ying and销 xiao.

The literal translation of these characters is ‘Managing Selling’ or perhaps ‘Managing Sales’. Or it could be to ‘Manage the Market’. Of course, like most aspects of language, it is not that clear cut.

Both characters have a number of meanings including a reference to military spending. But these are the characters that confer the meaning of marketing in the Chinese language. And don’t forget that the Chinese culture has a 5,000 year old history and tradition as a trading and sales culture.

营ying 销xiao
nouncamp, battalion, army, barrack nounpin, market, sell
verbdeal with, manage, operate, run, trade verbcancel, consume, do away with, sell, spend

Increased accountability to revenue

Since the global recession there has been an increased focus on the financial performance of marketing. This has taken two forms; the increased demand for measuring marketing’s contribution to profit and the application of the procurement process to reduce cost. Both cost reduction and revenue improvement deliver increased marketing performance.

The difficulty in measuring the financial contribution of marketing lies in the narrow view we have of marketing. Many organisations define marketing within the concept of promotions and simply see it as the advertising department communicating value propositions and promotional offers. (Derogatively referred to as the colouring-in department).

Until the increased use of digital marketing, it has proven difficult to measure direct contribution of promotions (beyond direct response). But technology and the data collected in the online digital environment means we are able to better measure the direct impacts of the many marketing communications activities undertaken by the marketing department.

But what if we define marketing as ‘managing sales’ or ‘managing the market’?

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Managing Marketing – How to create high performance client / agency relationships

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 founder and global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Cam Carter, founder of Navigare, shares his thoughts with Darren Woolley on what it takes to create high performance marketing and agency teams. They discuss the roles of tools, such as surveys and explore the function of a third party consultant in assisting in managing the process to optimise the relationships and outputs of the client / agency relationship.

Cam Carter Navigare

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or, follow Managing Marketing on Soundcloud or iTunes

Podcast transcription

Darren:

All right. I’m here today with Cam Carter, a long-time friend, who is the founder of Navigare.

We’re going to have a conversation around high-performance relationships, something that Cam knows very well, and more importantly about what it actually takes for people to develop and maintain high-performance relationships.

Thanks, Cam, for taking the time. The first point I have is what are the attributes in your mind of high-performance teams or relationships between advertisers and agencies?

High-performance demands a commitment to high maintenance

Cam:

Okay, if I can hijack just for a moment there. Anyone who doesn’t like what I’m about to say really shouldn’t read any further. It will be a waste of their time. The fact is, and it is a fact, that high-performance requires, actually demands, a commitment to high maintenance.

If you’re not prepared to invest in and stay committed to a principle and a practice of maintenance in any relationship, it doesn’t matter whether it’s commercial or personal for that matter, then walk away because you’ll never get high performance. It doesn’t matter whether it’s at an elite athlete level or from a fast car or a sailing yacht or anything unless you’ve got a regime built on high-maintenance principles. First off, you’ve got to have high maintenance. It’s the driver.

The attributes of high-performance advertiser and agency teams, there’s a raft of them but if we just look at say 3 in the first instance, there’s courtesy, respect and inclusiveness.

They are old-fashioned concepts. You and I have talked about this. If everyone isn’t treating each other with courtesy, if they are not treating each other with respect, if that respect isn’t being earned and if that doesn’t manifest itself in an inclusive behavior pattern, then it will be shot.

Inclusiveness leads to what I think is the important second attribute. That is setting and sticking to clear expectations and shared standards. What we find continuously and depressingly continuously, and I’m sure you do too in your professional business, is that we’ve often said is that partners actually don’t know what is expected of them.

They think they know but they haven’t actually been specified and determined. They are really refreshed when something is established. There’s no recognition of the fact that times change. Needs change. Circumstances change. Therefore, everyone’s expectations change. If that is missing, then everyone’s on a path to failure. It’s just nonsense.

Darren:

It’s really interesting you say that because one of the things that always cracks me up when a marketer phones me up and says, “I’ve got to get a new agency.” We always explore what has gone wrong to work out whether they really do need a new agency. They often say, “They’re not delivering to expectation.” My next statement or question is, “Have you actually articulated what your expectation is?”

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Television advertising cost considerations with celebrity talent – Case study

Client Category – Production Management Assessment – Asia

Challenging Problem:

The advertiser, a global food and beverage company, had briefed their agency for a television production with a defined budget. The agency had come back with a production estimate that was over budget and were unwilling to negotiate the cost due to concerns that the concept involved a well-known celebrity endorsing the product and therefore no risk should be taken in the production.

This is common, as many brands use well known celebrities as the strategy to promote their brand. These celebrities come at a high price compared to the cost of production. However, many agencies and production companies will use the high cost of the celebrity as an opportunity to inflate the cost of the production, as it will still appear relatively small as a percentage of the total cost.

Of course there are certain production costs associated with shooting celebrities, such as hair and make-up, their travel costs and specific catering needs. But in our experience, even with an experienced and talented celebrity, the actual cost of production should not increase.

Creative Solution:

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The Future of Marketing – where is it going and how will it impact you?

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.

In my role as the Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute and as the CEO of TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultants, I was asked to participate in a webcast on “The future of marketing” hosted by Redback Conferencing, the webinar providers for the Australian Marketing Institute.

The future of marketing

From left to right: Sara Gonzalez – Redback Conferencing, Darren Woolley – TrinityP3, Michael Kirsten – Kelly Services and Aden Forrest – Marketo

The panel, hosted by Redback Conferencing’s Marketing Manager, Sara Gonzalez also included myself and the Managing Director of Marketo Australia, Aden Forrest and Director of Global Content Marketing & Strategy at Kelly Services, Michael Kirsten.

In a broad ranging conversation between three marketing thought leaders, the webcast covers everything from marketing structures to the role of data and technology in informing strategy and performance.

In the webcast you will hear:

  1. How marketing is changing in relation to managing the customer experience
  2. The skills marketers will require in the future including the importance of collaboration
  3. The role of data in defining and managing the customer experience through informing strategy and then monitoring marketing performance
  4. The importance of marketers to be able to select and manage the right channels to engage their specific customers
  5. The future structures of marketing functions to deliver a customer centric experience, especially within highly siloed organisations
  6. How technology will allow marketers to customise and automate the customer experience of the brand leading to increases in revenue
  7. The future role of mass marketing and mass media in a customer engagement marketing world
  8. The opportunity for organisations to use marketing to align their organisation to the market and to their customers for future growth
  9. The rise of the Chief Customer Officer from the marketing department as part of the transformation to a customer centric marketing strategy
  10. The important role of the CEO in defining and communicating the brand to customers with a human face.

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