Madison Avenue Moneyball: Insights About the Game of Advertising

This post is by Michael Farmer, Chairman of TrinityP3 USA and author of Madison Avenue Manslaughter: an inside view of fee-cutting clients, profit-hungry owners and declining ad agencies, which won the Axiom Gold Business Book Award for the best marketing / advertising book of 2016.

Madison Avenue Moneyball

By now, we know what “Moneyball” is:  The best-selling book about baseball by Michael Lewis (2003), the Academy Award-nominated movie with Brad Pitt (2011) and — most importantly — the underlying concept that obscure metrics reveal the truth about how the game of baseball works.  Moneyball general managers, like Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s, could consistently win games despite payroll disadvantages that prevented the A’s from hiring expensive talent.  Lewis asked, “How’d they do it?  What was their secret?”

Is there a moneyball strategy for the game of advertising?  Is there a secret way for beleaguered agency CEOs to compete and become “winners” again?

Baseball fanatics had, for many years, raised questions about the relevance of the statistics gathered by the Elias Sports Bureau, which kept the score sheets for Major League Baseball.  Hits (singles, doubles, triples and homers) were lumped together in batting averages, but walks were completely ignored.

A batter with high RBIs was evaluated as a hero, even though the batters before him made it possible by getting on base.  If batting averages and RBIs were maximised through high player salaries, would a team always win? Not at all.

Beane used a full set of baseball statistics, sabermetrics, to identify how to put together a low-cost team that maximised on-base percentages and runs.  His success challenged the assumptions about what it took to win in baseball.  It wasn’t all about money.

The game of advertising is less clear-cut than baseball, but many of the fundamental questions are the same.  What is the nature of competition?  What defines “winning?” What are the generally accepted metrics of the game?  How are teams put together?  How well are game strategies working?  What “hidden” metrics give a different picture of what matters?  Is there a Billy Beane strategy for creative agencies? Continue reading “Madison Avenue Moneyball: Insights About the Game of Advertising”

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Managing Marketing: The challenges and changes in automotive marketing

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.

Peter Anderson is an Automotive Journalist and chats with Darren about the changes and challenges facing the automotive industry and how the category is adapting to the changes including autonomous motor vehicles, alternative fuel, falling motor vehicle ownership amongst the Millennial Generation and addressing the needs of women buyers.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Follow Managing Marketing on Soundcloud or iTunes

Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing and today I get a chance to sit down with an old friend (not old but a friend I’ve known for a long time), Peter Anderson, who is a freelance automotive journalist of quite some renown. Welcome, Peter.

Peter:

I hope I’m of some renown.

Darren:

Yes, you get your name out there quite a lot attached to a whole lot of stories about motor vehicles.

Peter:

Well I’m an attention-whore, so that probably helps.

Darren:

But it’s interesting because it’s one category of business that is really going through some disruption as they say.

Peter:

Huge transformation.

Darren:

Because one is technology. The other is the way technology is impacting on the way people think about cars.

Peter:

Everything from start to finish about tech including sitting on a train watching car videos right through to what’s in that car? What powers that car? Do you plug this car in or do you fill it with fuel? Right across the range the second someone wakes up and says I want to buy a car it’s completely different to the way you or I bought our first cars 20 or 25 years ago.

Darren:

Well, I bought mine off my father and he was going to trade it in and he said, ‘if you pay the trade-in price’. I bought a lovely type 3 Volkswagen station wagon off my father.

Peter:

Oh nice. It’s probably still going somewhere.

Darren:

It is. In fact, he was very disappointed because when I sold it about five years later I got more money than he sold it to me for and he tried to get me to pay the difference.

Peter:

Are you sure that’s not my dad, is it? They sound like the same.

Darren:

I think all dads are the same. What was your first car?
Continue reading “Managing Marketing: The challenges and changes in automotive marketing”

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Spielberg or Ridley Scott, who is the right director for your TVC?

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.

director for your tvc

If you had the budget which director would you choose? and why?

Most advertisers leave the selection of a TVC director up to the agency. And rightly so, it is often very difficult to recognise what a director has actually brought to a project apart from management and communication skills (or is this all that is required of a great director?) And the agency, especially the Executive Creative Director, will remind you the selection of the director will make or break the production and no advertiser will want to put the whole production budget at risk.

Let’s face it, making an audio-visual communication whether it’s a 2 hour long narrative or a 30 second TVC is a team effort. So not only do you have to be mindful of who the director is but who his or her team is, is just as important.

Of course the TVC budget will often have a bearing on the director. I have worked on many TVCs where the agency put forward directors that were way over the advertiser’s indicated budget and the agency has had to go back and find more affordable directors. This means the agency has wasted their own resources and the advertiser’s time (money) all because the agency thought they could talk the advertiser into the more expensive director.

Personally, I applaud these advertisers for standing firm, after all, what is a target budget for? When I see the cheaper director’s result I often wonder what the more expensive director would have brought to the table because if the TVC is tightly scripted and storyboarded the director has very little room for improvement.

I have seen expensive (often touted as more “creative” than the alternatives) directors bring extra content into the TVC that needed a well scripted 30 second TVC to be extended to a 45 second TVC thus playing hell with the media buy. The 45 sec TVC gets a few spots on air to comply with the eligibility for award entries and then the media schedule goes back to the originally scripted 30s.
Continue reading “Spielberg or Ridley Scott, who is the right director for your TVC?”

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Why Agency Makeovers are Difficult

This post is by Michael Farmer, Chairman of TrinityP3 USA and author of Madison Avenue Manslaughter: an inside view of fee-cutting clients, profit-hungry owners and declining ad agencies, which won the Axiom Gold Business Book Award for the best marketing / advertising book of 2016.

agency makeover

Organisational stability is what we seek.  We struggle to make order out of daily chaos.  We yearn for the illusive: understanding and respect from clients, the successful management of deadlines, the creation of effective work, the achievement of personal satisfaction, the comfort that comes from knowing that we and our organisations are valuable partners — that we fit in and, for better or worse, that we successfully occupy a little corner of the world.

Isn’t that what our daily efforts are all about?

We accept the imperfect hierarchies in which we work.  There are those above us, some of whom are inspiring, and others below us, some of whom get the job done.  We hope to move up, through recognition and luck, and if we’re human, we hope our enemies and the dopes that drag us down will fail.

Stability is what we seek, and change, when it is thrust upon us, is the enemy of stability, much to be feared and resisted.  Change looks a lot like chaos.  With change, our corner of the world may be wiped out.  Our skills and experience?  Devalued or forgotten.  Our network of relationships?  Altered in uncertain ways.  Our sense of confidence about the future?  Shaken.  Our economic prospects?  At risk.

Ever since “shareholder value” became the dominant corporate mantra and C-Suite salaries went through the roof, change has been ever-present.  In manufacturing, domestic supplier relationships were ditched, as lower-cost global suppliers were identified and secured.  This gutted domestic manufacturing employment in permanent ways and destabilised the lives of skilled and unskilled workers.

Downsizings are routine, and corporate loyalty seen as a quaint concept of the past.  Companies in lower-growth industries boost earnings and margins to maintain the inflated expectations of Wall Street and the extraordinary C-Suite salaries that they support.

Marque advertising agencies have been particularly hard-hit by downsizings, caught as they are between fee-cutting clients and performance-demanding holding companies. Fewer agency people are now left to deal with growing Scopes of Work. This has been a feature of agency life for more than two decades. It is neither good nor bad. It just “is,” and the imbalance among fees, workloads and resources has reached crisis proportions.

There are changes that cannot be avoided.  Globalisation of brands, the rise of procurement, the innovation of digital and social media, the demographic take-over by Millennials, the rise of e-commerce (Amazon in particular) and the success of Google and Facebook scream at the advertising industry: Change or die!  What you’re currently doing is not working!
Continue reading “Why Agency Makeovers are Difficult”

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How many billable hours are there in a year?

This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With 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.

This is the next post in a series of one-minute videos that address one of the many complex challenges facing marketing, media and advertising today. The Golden Minute series is an attempt to prove Albert Einstein right when he said “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple”.

But he also said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”. So we will leave it for you to judge. Please let us know here if there is a topic you would like us to cover in a Golden Minute.

If you are still working with agency retainers then the issue of billable hours per person will definitely be an issue. Too high and too low both have impacts on the retainer calculations and the result. But what is the right number of billable hours per year? Well it depends and in my time working with advertisers around the world it has varied from a ridiculously low 1,200 per year up to a mind-blowing 2,080 hours per year. But why is this so important?

The number of billable hours is used by the agency to calculate the hourly rate or the day rate to recover the cost of the agency resource including the overhead cost and the profit margin. The methodology for calculating this is fully explained here. If the number of billable hours allowed per year is high, like the 2,080, then the rate per hour will be lower. If the number of billable hours per year is low, like the 1,200, then the rate per hour will be higher.

It is for this reason that some procurement people and consultants will encourage the annual billable hours to be high so that the hourly rate is low. And many agencies will want the annual billable hours to be low so that the rate per hour is high.

So what decides the number of billable hours per year?

The consideration is what is the accepted working week? This will vary from market to market, often set by government or the labour authorities or simply cultural practice. The working week is made up by the number of hours per day and the number of working days per week.

Based on the eight-hour day and the five day working week the weekly working hours is forty. But in some markets the working week is six days or five and a half days. Others work a seven-hour day and so over five days you have a 35-hour week. Of course people can work overtime, but this is only a consideration if the agency actually pays overtime. Unpaid overtime has no impact on calculating billable hours per year.

Continue reading “How many billable hours are there in a year?”

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Lorenzo’s lesson on customer data and big data for business

This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With 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.

About 12 years ago we bought our first office in South Melbourne and on the day we moved in I went downstairs to the café on the ground floor to get a coffee. It was a buzzing place and the guy behind the counter introduced himself as Lorenzo, the proprietor.

He knew I had not been there before and I explained we had just moved into the second floor of the building. He took my order, a strong latte, and we continued talking with him asking about what type of business we had and why we moved into the area.

The coffee was excellent and it went some of the way to explain why his café was buzzing when there were at least two other competitors within a couple of hundred metres of the front door. It was not until a few days later when I returned to Lorenzo’s business that his secret was revealed.

As I walked through the door I was greeted by name (it took me a couple of weeks to reciprocate with any certainty) and asked if I wanted a strong latte. In that moment I felt like a long time customer even though it was my second visit.

customer data for business

Lorenzo was one of those people who could memorise and recall the details of his customers and not just name and coffee preference as I discovered when the conversation of the other day continued where it left off and went on over the following weeks and months. This is customer experience driven by the customer data within Lorenzo’s brain.

The value of customer data is in how you use it

About six months after we moved in I went downstairs to get my daily latte and was greeted as always by Lorenzo, except that this day he handed me a coffee along with a cupcake that held a single candle on top and he wished me happy birthday. I do not remember ever telling him my birthday, but clearly I had and he had remembered.

But while this behaviour certainly earned my loyalty – believe me I was not going anywhere else for my daily brew – Lorenzo also managed to use this relationship to build his business.

By talking with his customers and listening he was able to not just look for business opportunities but start to predict those opportunities too. I remember mentioning we were having a company meeting in a few weeks and he asked if we would require catering. A couple of days later he dropped by the office (two floors up) to drop off a catering menu for us to consider. Of course we used him.

Soon after my birthday he wondered if we celebrated birthdays in the office and said he could organise cakes on those days if we wanted to celebrate and even offered options such as gluten free or dairy free.

Continue reading “Lorenzo’s lesson on customer data and big data for business”

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Madison Avenue Makeover: How Can Advertisers use Agencies to Restore Growth and Profitability for their Lackluster Brands?

This post is by Michael Farmer, Chairman of TrinityP3 USA and author of Madison Avenue Manslaughter: an inside view of fee-cutting clients, profit-hungry owners and declining ad agencies, which won the Axiom Gold Business Book Award for the best marketing / advertising book of 2016.

brand growth

Who is suffering the most from Madison Avenue’s manslaughter? Agencies, who see declining fees and growing workloads, and have been downsizing to generate holding company margins — while slowly destroying their capabilities? Or advertisers, whose brands are languishing, putting CMO tenure at risk?

Relationships look like speed-dating matchups that end up as one-night stands with disappointing sex. Something needs to change. Madison Avenue needs a makeover. Advertisers need to kick-start their brands’ performance.

Legacy brands are in trouble. McDonald’s, P&G, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, American Express, Unilever, Kraft, Nestle, Macy’s, JC Penney, Gillette, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Miller Coors – just to pick a few out of many.

Blame the millennials” is a recurring theme. “We need lower costs” is a constant battle-cry (more often heard than “we need growing sales!”) “More digital and social marketing” is seen, without much genuine conviction, as a solution, along with agency relationship experiments that give the appearance of vigorous action.

Among the agency experiments are holding company relationships; “best in class” agency selections; ad hoc and growing scope of work deliverables; auctions of deliverables among selected agencies; creation of internal agency operations; use of management consulting firms; and ongoing programs of agency reviews, firings and hirings. And let’s not forget the use of dubious metrics like “working / non-working” cost ratios, which distract rather than inform marketing thinking.

The pace of experimentation is as breathtaking as it is foolish and time-wasting. Behind the thinking is the apparent belief that brand health will be restored once experimentation identifies a winning formula. It’s like “if we buy enough lottery tickets from enough different places, we’ll finally win the lottery!

The transactional relationships that emerge from this experimentation, though, are flawed, and the odds of finding a winning formula are low, indeed. The net effects of relationship experimentation are threefold: 1) increased complexity for Marketing; 2) unhealthy obsession with short-term thinking; 3) reduced agency capabilities, confidence and commitment.

The Marketing / Procurement management duo seems to have either forgotten or abandoned the lessons of the supply chain revolution of the ‘80s and ‘90s, which saw the achievement of increased product quality and lower costs through a serious commitment to fewer, more engaged suppliers. The supply chain revolution saved the US automotive industry and brought about decades of improved quality and lower costs for manufactured and distributed goods and services, here and abroad. It’s all laid out in two books: The Machine that Changed the World, and The Toyota Way.
Continue reading “Madison Avenue Makeover: How Can Advertisers use Agencies to Restore Growth and Profitability for their Lackluster Brands?”

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Managing Marketing: The incredibly complex choices facing marketers

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.

Liam Walsh, Managing Director of Amobee talks with Darren on the increased choice facing marketers today with technology companies, management consultants and agencies all competing for the marketing budget and why marketers are increasingly challenged in making these choices in the face of increasing complexity.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Follow Managing Marketing on Soundcloud or iTunes

Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing and today I’m joined by the managing director of Amobee, Liam Walsh. Welcome, Liam.

Liam:

Thank you, Darren, I’m glad to be here.

Darren:

I’m glad you’re here as well because otherwise I’d be talking to myself. But one of the things we’ve both seen over the last few years is this incredible explosion of consultants and technology companies; the landscape is changing, isn’t it?

Liam:

It sure is. It certainly feels like the consultancies are pretty enthusiastic about this space and having some success.

Darren:

It’ll be interesting to see how they roll out. There have been some high-profile agencies being purchased around the world, particularly by Accenture but there has also a huge amount of scepticism about their ability to integrate cultures isn’t there?

I know Ben Tolley at Clarity (who did the Adam and Eve–DDB purchase in the U.K. and the Monkeys with Accenture here) said culture’s not an issue. What do you think?

Do you think there is a cultural mismatch between consultancy firms and advertising agencies?

Liam:

Yes, I do. I would typify the consulting company, by definition, as doing consulting, which means a lot of looking inside a business or thing, doing a lot of diagnosis, a lot of interrogation and a lot of thinking, a lot of planning, a lot of recommendations.

If you look at an ad agency, it does some diagnosis (not a lot) and it does some thinking (not a tremendous amount) and it does tons of execution. Do those values and cultures align? Not really.

If you simplify that even further you’ve got a bunch of people who spend a lot of time thinking and a bunch of people who spend a lot of time doing.

Darren:

But in some ways, you could argue that’s the perfect linear arrangement. You’ve got all the big thinking at the top end and as it comes down it gets to the point where we need to hand it over to someone to actually implement this and make stuff happen and that’s where agencies come in. And if we own them that means more of that client’s money ends up in our pocket rather than someone else’s.

Liam:

I think from a PNL perspective—absolutely. I can’t remember the name of the car company—Ford or GM—one of them in the States basically bought the entire supply chain for all of the parts and ten years later all the parts became really expensive, really inefficient because they weren’t very good at running those businesses; they were good at building and selling cars.

When I think that from a P&L perspective that makes sense to have more of that chain.

Darren:

End to end integration it’s called.

Liam:

But can the culture survive it?

Darren:

And that’s the point, it’s about the culture. I love advertising agencies because they have the audacity to have this group of people called the creative department, which immediately makes me think that everyone else in the agency can’t be because they’re not in the creative department.

I was one of those people in the creative department for 15 years so I felt pretty good about myself because I was surrounded by all these blinkered, Philistine, non-creative types.

Liam:

Suits.
Continue reading “Managing Marketing: The incredibly complex choices facing marketers”

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The ethics of Client / Agency behaviour: What is acceptable and what is not?

This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With 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.

At the inaugural Mumbrella Asia 360 earlier this month Julian Barrans, Asia Business director and I curated a session on client / agency behaviour based around real life examples of dubious incidents we had either witnessed or had heard about from reliable sources. We put these to the audience to gauge what is acceptable today and what is not.

The world of marketing, media and advertising is changing rapidly, especially driven by technology innovation, which is multiplying opportunities and options and magnifying pressure and demands. But has this impacted the way we work together? And if so how?

Client agency behaviour

To help us explore the behaviours, we recruited two experienced representatives from marketing and the agency world to provide their insights. Our marketer was Virginia Ng, former senior marketer at KFC and our agency leader was Susana Tsui, CEO at media agency PHD APAC.

Each provided their unique perspective to question and interrogate the scenarios presented and provide their insights and feedback on the behaviour before we put the ultimate judgement to the audience that attended the session.

Here we present the same scenarios presented on the day at Mumbrella Asia 360 in Singapore, along with the points and viewpoints raised on the day. But more importantly is for you the reader to provide your thoughts to what is acceptable today and what is not?

Only by the industry considering and discussing these issues can we encourage positive and productive behaviour and discourage the negative and destructive behaviour.

Scenario One – Charitable Mark Up

A marketer has a charity they support as part of their marketing and corporate strategy. But at a fund raising event they realise they have no way to make a charitable donation to the charity on the night so they ask the agency to make a sizeable contribution of $50,000. The agency CEO agrees. Later that month the Marketer receives an invoice for the $50,000 donation along with the agency 10% commission and the 7.5% service fee as per their contract”.

Is this acceptable or not?

Considerations and Findings

There was 100% agreement from the audience that this was unacceptable on the part of the agency, but some of the audience believed that it was also unacceptable for the marketer to put this on the agency. One agency said that worse than this scenario, they had a client ask them to make the donation as an agency with no intention to recoup the fee at all.

Interestingly much of the discussion was about the commission and even though the agency has the ability to charge both a commission and a service fee on external costs, which this definitely qualifies as, most comments indicated that the service fee or handling fee was acceptable, but where the agency had stepped over the line was in charging the 10% commission as well.

Continue reading “The ethics of Client / Agency behaviour: What is acceptable and what is not?”

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How to know if you need to pitch your agency

This post is by David Angell, TrinityP3 General Manager and Head of Media. David has extensive commercial and media experience gained through a fifteen year career in media agencies, which he uses to help drive optimal results for TrinityP3 clients.

pitch your agency

I often get asked by our clients to see them ‘about running an agency pitch’. The decision to pitch, for whatever reason, is generally already taken by the time they speak to me.

Yet sometimes, based on what I hear, my advice is ‘actually, don’t pitch’, for a number of reasons.

Reviewing an agency can often be an intuitive reaction to a given situation, change or perception. But, of course, this doesn’t always make ‘pitching’ the best option.

Loss of IP, disruption to your BAU communications, internal stress and diversion of resource, and the risk of ‘new relationships with the same problems’ are all challenges associated with making the decision to go to market for something shiny and new.

However, on other occasions, pitching is certainly the optimal route to take. Here are ten indicators that tell you that now could be the right time.

1. The agency has failed to follow through on performance KPIs designed to avert a pitch.

In my opinion it’s never fair to pitch an agency that has not been performance managed. Or at the very least, given fair warning and opportunity to discuss issues, and agree on KPIs designed to fix the problems. But if you’ve already taken this approach, and the agency has failed to respond at more than one key milestone – the pitch option is relevant.

2. You’ve taken improvement advice from your agency, yet nothing has changed.

Sometimes, the fault is yours; self-awareness is critical. Listening to an advisor either inside your agency or externally, and implementing steps to improve things on your side is good agency leadership.

Without this due diligence, you can go through a pitch and emerge with a new agency and the same set of problems. However, if you’ve implemented improvement advice without result, there may not be much more you can do with the existing partnership.

3. Consistent dissatisfaction exists through the line, not just at one level.

Make sure you talk to your team and identify red threads of dissatisfaction, from the ground up. Understanding this can help to pinpoint the degree of ‘solvability’ that might exist, before a pitch becomes necessary. One jarring member of agency staff could be swapped out – but if the problems exist through the whole team, it’s obviously indicative of something more challenging. Continue reading “How to know if you need to pitch your agency”

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The Importance of (good) stakeholder engagement in any marketing transformation project

This post is by Zena Churchill, a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. Over the past 20 years, Zena has worked for some of the biggest international and national brands. Having worked both agency and client side, Zena has strong insight and experience across most facets of marketing, specialising in media, strategy and BTL.

Each year at TrinityP3 we work on many large strategic marketing projects. Ranging from marketing performance solutions to technology solutions to roster alignments, most of what we do will often involve a lot of people across quite complex organisation structures.

Depending on the brief we will engage with CEOs, CMOs, CFOs CTO’s or procurement, as well as pretty much everyone in between. And at times it can, quite rightly, feel like everyone in the business is invested in or involved with the brief we are answering.

stakeholder engagement

Mostly, things run relatively smoothly. We will engage from the outset with a project lead (or two) and be introduced to other stakeholders as the task at hand progresses, or it is deemed necessary. Sometimes, when asked, we will advise up front on who the stakeholders should be, based on the brief and our experience in answering similar business issues.

Life is good. Until those times when it doesn’t run smoothly, and we are left to answer a brief whilst jumping through hoops to please a myriad of stakeholders armed with different and conflicting agendas. When this happens, it can feel like we are performing in a circus without a ringmaster (and the lions are circling).

You see, stakeholder management is a bit like running a circus. There are many people involved, a lot of moving parts and things can quickly go awry if someone does not understand their part in the action. From our experience, we know very quickly from the start of a project if the internal stakeholder management is going to run well. This means we can also tell quickly when it is not going to run well, and we will be dealing with internal obstacles caused by stakeholder disarray.

So, if you have a large-scale project coming up here are 5 tips to help you nail stakeholder management and make sure you end up feeling like a ringleader instead of a trapeze artist without a safety net.

5 signs stakeholder management will run well

1. Trust has been established

Good stakeholder managers build trust across the business, quickly. Ideally, as consultants, we should walk into a business environment that is already on board with the brief at hand, is confident in the person leading the project and is excited about the impending outcome (well, as excited as anyone not in marketing gets about marketing).

A project lead that does not have the confidence of the stakeholders involved is guaranteed to be marred by unnecessary delays, politicking and second guessing and, in some cases, brief abandonment as it all becomes too hard to push forward.

Tip: Before you start the project, spend time communicating the purpose, process and outcome for the brief and how it will benefit the business (and the stakeholder).

2. The stakeholders are the right stakeholders

It is imperative from the get-go that the right stakeholders are included in a project. If this is not done, or not done properly, projects will inevitably be delayed, impeded or at the very worst, cancelled. It is the nature of the organisational beast that not all stakeholders will benefit equally from the outcome of the work we do, for a multitude of reasons.

Nevertheless, the best-case scenario is to have all stakeholders identified and engaged before a brief is signed off and implemented. Worst case scenario is a stakeholder cohort that is complex and many when it doesn’t need to be or stakeholders appearing suddenly from the sidelines staking a claim in the project outcome. Continue reading “The Importance of (good) stakeholder engagement in any marketing transformation project”

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What happens when the best agencies are no longer interested in pitching for your business?

This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With 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.

Recently we have read reports from the CEO of WPP, Sir Martin Sorell and even our own Executive Chairman, Michael Farmer, talking about the almost irrational motivation of agencies to pitch for and win business at any cost. Certainly, with so many agencies in the market, you would think there is no shortage of candidates to pitch for an advertisers business.

But the fact is that not all agencies are equal, yes, some are more equal, or perhaps more desirable than others. In any market there are a handful of agencies that are considered outstanding and then there are the others and behind them the ‘also-rans’.

The fact is this crème of the crop are in high demand and are increasingly more selective about what business they will pitch for and what they are passing on. In quite a few recent pitches we have undertaken a market search brief for some global advertisers operating in local markets.

In each case one of the key requirements was to find an agency that would drive innovation and creativity in marketing, advertising and media. We would develop the long list and as always check in with the agencies on the list to ensure the agency was available without revealing the advertiser, just usually the broad category they belong to. On approval of the agencies to be included in the tender, we contacted the selected agencies and invited them to participate, with up to three of the agencies declining the invitation.

Pitching for your business

Usually the agency would state that they were busy and did not want to stretch their resources. Interestingly none of the agencies were from the big four holding companies in any of these examples. In fact the agencies most inclined to decline the tender invitation have been either ‘hot’ independent agencies or agencies from the smaller boutique networks.

Disappointed that we had up to three of a list of eight agencies decline to participate I thought it worth following up with the CEO of the agencies that declined to find if there were any underlying reasons for them not participating in a new business opportunity.

Of course none of the agencies wanted to speak out on this as it could potentially damage future opportunities when the marketers involved would invariably move on to other roles. But confidentially the agencies did not decline because they were too busy, but declined for a number of very pragmatic and tangible business reasons.

The frustrating part is that the people who could potentially address these issues will never know the real reason they were not attracting the best agencies to their tender. So by way of illumination, here are the real reasons great agencies will be declining your invitation to pitch for your business.

1. “They regularly change agencies and use an expensive pitch process”

No matter the size of the market, from relatively small to enormous, advertising is more like a cottage industry, where everyone knows each other or at least everyone worth knowing but more importantly they know what accounts are available and when they are in play.

This means that if you have a corporate policy that states you go to market with a tender every three years, then every agency CEO and New Business Director will have the date of your next tender in their calendar.

Continue reading “What happens when the best agencies are no longer interested in pitching for your business?”

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Do You Really, Truly Want to Transform Your Agency?

This post is by Michael Farmer, Chairman of TrinityP3 USA and author of Madison Avenue Manslaughter: an inside view of fee-cutting clients, profit-hungry owners and declining ad agencies, which won the Axiom Gold Business Book Award for the best marketing / advertising book of 2016.

transform your agency

 

Are you tired of being shoved around by clients?  Worried about your fees?  Missing your budgets?  Is your creativity undervalued?  Are your best people quitting for better jobs?  Do benchmarkers set your fees?

Do you remember the good old days, when you trod the gilded C-Suite corridors?  When you were treated with respect?  When your work was award-winning and it really mattered?  When what you did made a difference?  Friend, you need a transformation.  A real transformation.

I don’t mean a get-rich-quick, lose-20-pounds-in-one-month, regain-your-sexual-potency-with-this-simple-herb type of transformation.  Those are fake, and they’re talked about all the time, with zero results.

I don’t mean the kind of transformation that your junior folks or project managers can fumble around with while you’re out beating the new business bushes.

No, friend, this is your transformation.  It requires personal leadership.  Leadership.  Putting your neck out — perhaps for the chopping block.  Taking a position.  Staking your reputation on it.

Here’s what you have to do:

Continue reading “Do You Really, Truly Want to Transform Your Agency?”

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Managing Marketing: Agencies, consultants, mergers and acquisitions

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.

Ben Tolley, Partner at Clarity talks with Darren on advertising industry mergers and acquisitions and the increased activity of consulting firms in this category. And we discuss not just the challenges but also the benefits to advertisers when creativity and management strategy comes together in the resulting entities and the possibility that soon it may be a holding company that is acquired.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Follow Managing Marketing on Soundcloud or iTunes

Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing and today I am sitting down and having a chat with Ben Tolley, who is a partner at Clarity, probably one of the big shakers and movers in the advertising industry at the moment because of some significant deals that have gone on, so welcome, Ben.

Ben:

Yeah, good to be here, thank you for having me.

Darren:

Thank you for making the time. There’s been some great headlines in the past 12 months with the industry looking at mergers and acquisitions and that is core business, isn’t it of Clarity.

Ben:

Yes that’s right. We specialise in advising mid-market companies, so companies valued up to a couple of hundred million dollars on mergers and acquisitions mainly focused around advising people on selling businesses and the agency land is kind of a very big part of what we focus on. We’re technology and media focused as a firm and there is a lot of activity in the agency space.

Darren:

Just to put it into context for people, I’ll just mention it was Adam and Eve being acquired by DDB in the UK and the Monkeys being acquired by Accenture here, would probably be the two high profile acquisitions deals that Clarity were involved in for the advertising industry. I’m sure there’s more, but just to put that into context.

Ben:

Yeah, we’ve worked on the buy side as well with people like Dentsu and Havas acquiring the agency businesses in the UK, we are a UK HQed business, and our US partners (interesting for this conversation) advised on the sale of Resource Emirati into IBM interactive experience which is a very similar type of rationale in a way to the Monkeys-Accenture transaction.

Darren:

So let’s talk about that because I know you did an interview recently in the UK where you were talking about the culture between the traditional consulting firms in advertising. Twenty years ago, in advertising I was approached by a consulting firm to come and work for them and I said ‘no’ because I just didn’t see me personally fitting into that culture.

What’s happened in say the last ten to twenty years that makes consulting firms seriously look at agencies as a business opportunity where there won’t be a culture problem?

Ben:

Yeah, that’s a big question. I think in regards to the commentary around the culture clash, it does feel a little bit to me like the James Bond DB5 with the little switch on the dashboard with the smoke that comes out the back. It is a bit of a smoke screen and that is not to say that there is nothing in it but I obviously have enormous respect for people like Martin Sorrel.

And Mark Reeves came out saying a very similar type of thing the other day so these are super smart accomplished people and there is something in it that is worth talking about.

The first thing when you hear people reacting to deals like The Monkeys and Karmarama as well and Accenture and they talk about culture, I think the first thing is to step back and think about is what am I not hearing?

These are very very bright people, Martin Sorrel and Mark Reeves, and they are saying, ‘a bit of a culture clash–I can see that being a problem there’, so what they are not saying is that the service offering that they are able to deliver in combination is unattractive.

Darren:

Or perhaps is superior to what’s already in the market.

Ben:

Exactly, so that’s the first thing on it, these are very smart guys and this is the most negative plausible thing that they can come up with.

Continue reading “Managing Marketing: Agencies, consultants, mergers and acquisitions”

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How TrinityP3 helps measure the performance of marketing – 3 case studies

After more than 15 years of downward pressure on marketing costs, the majority of traditional businesses are struggling to deliver growth and yet marketing provides one of the most successful drivers of business growth and performance when properly invested and measured against performance.

The problem is that in many organisations marketing is treated as a cost of business with little or no focus on the return on that marketing investment. No wonder the strategy of cost cutting to profit has had such a major impact on marketing and subsequently the marketing agencies and suppliers.

But with a trend to Zero Based Budgeting (ZBB) in marketing, especially in Consumer Packaged Goods, but increasingly other categories, and an increased expectation of proving efficacy and delivering return on marketing investment (ROMI), more marketers are looking at how they set and apply their budgets against performance metrics than ever before.

But in a world of overwhelming data, marketers are often unsure of which metrics are the best for measuring performance. This is compounded by the fact that many of the marketer’s agencies, suppliers and vendors will be recommending metrics that are directly attributable to their performance, but are often irrelevant to the performance of the organisation.

Performance of marketing

In our role as completely independent marketing management consultants we bring a holistic view to performance that integrates business metrics with marketing metrics to provide a balanced score card for the organisation, the marketing team and their agencies and suppliers.

Here are three recent case studies of that approach to marketing performance metrics and measures.

Case Study 1

Financial Services – Marketing Performance Measurement

Challenging Problem: A major financial services advertiser had invested heavily in sponsoring entertainment events and products to add value and encourage their customers to participate in high value entertainment products and therefore increase customer transactions and engagement.

This had become a cornerstone or pillar of the company offering as it was seen as a marketing investment for both acquisition and retention. But budget constraints and decreasing customer participation had made the advertiser question the investment.

Creative Solution: TrinityP3 proposed to undertake an independent marketing performance assessment and effectively try and replicate the business case for the program to see if the available data still supported the investment.

It was important that the assessment was empirically measured and evidence based as there were strong emotional ties to the program internally and political support, which had prevented this being undertaken previously.

Process: TrinityP3 was provided with full access to the financial performance of sponsorship, the costs and the performance along with market and customer research to understand the role and impact the sponsorship program had on driving financial performance. Continue reading “How TrinityP3 helps measure the performance of marketing – 3 case studies”

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