This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder and Global CEO of TrinityP3. With his background as an analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on optimising marketing productivity and performance across marketing agency and supplier rosters.
As we count down the days to the end of 2020, it is interesting to reflect on the changes and challenges we have faced in marketing, media and advertising. Only a week or so ago, I was given the opportunity to express some of these when I was interviewed by Azadeh Williams, the Founder and Managing Director of AZK Media.
On the foreshore of the Sydney Harbor, with the Harbour Bridge in the background and the iconic Opera House on the distant shore, I was interviewed by this former global journalist, turned B2B media and marketing leader on some of the lessons and advice I would give marketers as we come to the end of this ‘interesting’ year and looking to the year ahead.
We talked about some of the common marketing mistakes we have seen and the advice we give to avoid them. Trying to do too much with too little, and wanting to make decisions based on certainty in an uncertain world are just two. We discussed the importance of a clearly defined strategy and the ability to remain flexible and agile within that strategy to be able to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.
We discuss the ways marketers can build and develop more productive relationships with their agencies and the importance of clear, honest communication and feedback to define expectations and optimise performance. We highlighted the three important questions every marketer must ask before appointing a new agency and finally, the exciting opportunities that 2021 offers to marketing and business.
It was a really fun experience and I hope you enjoy it too.
Darren, it’s been a really interesting year for marketing, hasn’t it?
Interesting’s a good word, yes.
As we’ve seen redundancies, we’ve seen marketing budgets being slashed, panic marketing, if you will. What are the fatal mistakes that you’re seeing marketing leaders make, especially this year?
Well, look, I’m not sure they’re fatal, but they’re certainly not doing themselves any favours. And the first one (and there are only two) – but the first one is trying to do everything all the time. They’ve gone into this with a plan and they’re trying to execute everything, and they just don’t have the resources anymore. They don’t have the money; they don’t have the time.
So, it’s about being much more focused.
The second one is to stop making decisions. You’ve got to keep testing and learning. We’re going through a bumpy recovery that could last for another 18 months to two years. And so, don’t stop and wait for things to settle, keep going into the market and keep testing to find out what works for you now.
So, looking at 2021, it’s all about planning and getting ready to build that resiliency for 2020. What is the key advice that you can give marketing leaders to really start on the right foot?
Well, of course, you’ve got to have a strategy. And I know that seems obvious, but so many people have forgotten because they’re trying to constantly react to the marketplace. But first of all, you’ve got to have a strategy and a plan. And the second thing you need to do is to be agile or flexible enough to move within that plan as much as possible to the circumstances that present themselves.
When it comes to partnering with the right marketing agency, how important is it for businesses to find that right marketing agency, especially in leaner times?
Yeah, look, there’s a lot of talk about relationships between clients and their agencies. And I’ve actually found that yes, chemistry is so important, but also, having open and honest communication.
One of the things that we find often fails is the fact that marketers will forget to give their expectations. They’ll forget to give clear, honest feedback. So, you want to have partners that you can have those conversations with really naturally, and in a way that’s very open and honest. Otherwise, you’re just destined to waste money and waste time.
So, to avoid wasting money, what are the three key questions that businesses should ask when trying to choose the right agency that’s the right fit?
Yeah, it’s interesting because the questions I believe are the ones that the marketers or the organisation should ask of themselves. And the first one is what is it that I actually want from a partner? And I need to be really clear about what success looks like.
The second one is, do I have to get a new partner or is there an existing relationship that could actually fit in?
And the third one, a lot of people overlook this; is when you bring a new agency or a new partnership into your existing relationships, how are they going to change? Often when a new agency is appointed, suddenly, there’s this disruption with your other agencies. So, your media agency, your content agency, your creative agency, PR agency – they’ve all got to re-jostle to find where they’re most comfortable and where they fit in that mix.
So, final question; what excites you most about marketing for the new year?
Well, look, there’s so many things, but I think the most exciting thing is the fact that we’ve come out of 13 years of basically cost-cutting. And since the global financial crisis in 2007, 2008, most brands have been cutting costs as a way of driving profit.
But I think this pandemic has caused people to rethink what it actually means to be in business and growth can only come from investing in the right partnerships and the right activities. So, I think what we’re going to see going forward from 2021 onwards, is much more focus on driving real growth through marketing, and that’s exciting.
That is exciting, indeed. Thank you so much, Darren, for your time, really appreciate it.
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