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

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. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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Managing Marketing: The importance of brands and branding in the digital age

Simone Bartley, co-founder and CEO of Together Co discusses with Darren the concept of brand and brand promise and its increasing importance to business in the digital marketing environment and why brand is core to any business requiring the leadership of the CEO. Continue reading

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Can management consultants teach ‘value’ to the advertising agencies?

It is interesting to see how the advertising industry has reacted to the recent acquisition play of the management consultant firms like Accenture and PWC. Some people embrace the trend while others are sceptical as to the efficacy of the strategy. Will Accenture be able to leverage the value of their investment in Karmarama and Monkeys on opposite sides of the world? Or will what is seen as fundamental cultural differences cause it to fail? Time will tell. Continue reading

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The dangers of pitching your agency on a regular basis

Do you work for a company that routinely has you take your contracted agencies to pitch every three years? Is this mandated by finance or procurement? Or is this something that the marketing team believe is the best option? We know that many organisations have a habit of going to pitch every three years, just as we know that in every switched on agency there is a new business person who marks down the date of your last pitch with a note to call you in two years and six months hoping to get on your next pitch.

But here is the thing you are missing. It is highly likely that while you have justified this practice as being good governance and due diligence, it is possible that you are wasting significant amounts of money and possibly doing damage to your corporate reputation, along with the performance of your brand and business. Now you may think this is counterintuitive advice coming from a company that you may associate with pitching, but the fact is pitches are less than 10% of the strategic management consulting we do and secondly it is the other 90% of work on marketing and agency roster performance that has informed this opinion. But let me explain as to what we have observed. Continue reading

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The Other Opioid Epidemic: The (Brief) High from Chasing New Business

The agency CEO asked me not to use his name.  He wanted to talk privately over breakfast.  “You know, this new business thing is getting to be a problem, he said.  “We’re addicted to falling in love with our next new client, and the one after that and the one after that.  They will solve all our problems.  We’ll do great award-winning work, be well paid, and loved in return … and all the industry crap will disappear.  We’ll pour our heart and soul into winning them.  They’re coy; both flirtatious and distant, making us want them even more.  We’re no better than lovesick teenagers.  And when it goes our way, and we get together and have a wonderful first year, it’s true love … before it turns to crap.  We hate the crap.  We would rather be in love.  That’s why we love new clients and everything it takes to win them.”

Are agency-client relationships becoming loveless marriages that end up on the rocks?  Do the divorced partners, free of the ties that bind, become serial daters, falling in and out of love so often that “commitment” sounds boring and dated — something that was done by their parents in another creative era?  If brands are the children of agency-client relationships, what will happen to them as they’re shuttled from one relationship to another? Will they grow and make positive contributions?  Or, more likely, will they underperform (as they are today)? Continue reading

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Managing Marketing: The essential role of business innovation beyond being a management fad

Dr Lee Styger, Director of the Executive MBA at Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong, discusses with Darren the importance of innovation in businesses, but innovation that is based on developing and delivering enhanced customer experiences, rather than being yet another management fad. Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing. Today I’m here with Lee Styger who is the Director of the Executive MBA at Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong and it’s a great opportunity because we’re going to be discussing a hot topic, which is innovation. Welcome, Lee.

Lee:

Thanks, Darren.

Darren:

Except that it’s not a hot topic, is it? Because everyone’s talking about it from the boardrooms down to the grassroots or the factory floor but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of innovation actually happening.

Lee:

What we discussed in the Green Room – we’re old enough to look at the history of management fads from business process re-engineering, total quality management, all of these things and about every 18 months a new one comes around and I think innovation is currently one of these perceived magic pills by leaders all around the place.

You say innovation; by what measure? How are you doing your innovation? What is innovation? What does it mean to you and your customer? What happens? You’ve got a department for it that ticks a box for it on the annual report.

Darren:

I think I measure fads by the number of consultants that are pushing the particular service because certainly my LinkedIn feed over the last three years has suddenly bloomed with people giving advice on how to become more innovative, which I think is an interesting promise because from my perspective innovation is at the very core of a business culture isn’t it, or not?

Lee:

It should be or not. Now, where do you go with this? It’s about core. I sat in a meeting recently when we were looking at a little bit of re-engineering of an organisation and the team brought in to do this were all describing themselves and their strengths. Not once did they mention customer.

So, we’re going to innovate our own strengths to create a super team with no connection to customer. If you’re going to innovate, if you’re going to change, if you’re going to do anything new, exciting, who are you going to do it for? And if it’s about business then it’s got to be customer.

Darren:

Absolutely.

Lee:

And good old Deming told us that all of those years ago and somewhere along the line we’ve lost it.

Darren:

We said before it’s either core or it’s not except that it was also Edward Deming who said you don’t have to change after all there’s no mandate to survive. If you don’t want to change just prepare yourself for business death

Lee:

The inevitable.

Darren:

And yet you see so many companies (Einstein’s definition of insanity) that are doing the same thing over and over again in a market that is being disrupted by technology. Technology is disrupting the economics. It’s disrupting the business processes and therefore disrupting categories, and yet it seems like Boards and the C-suite for a lot of companies are absolutely paralysed in the face of change.

Lee:

Yeah.

Darren:

So, why? Continue reading

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Don’t Count Out the Holding Companies – At Least Not Yet

The latest holding company news, gleefully reported in the trade press, shows a shortfall in WPP’s first half 2017 growth rates, with forecasts of lower long-term growth in coming years.  WPP’s share price took a dive.  Campaign U.S. headlined “Sorrell under pressure to streamline WPP as FMCG clients cut back on marketing.”  Panic!  WPP is not the only holding company affected by advertiser spend cutbacks, but Sir Martin is highly visible, and he takes most of the industry flack.  How concerned should investors be?  Don’t count out the holding companies yet.  They have not played all the potential cards in their hands.

Holding companies have been visibly with us for the past 30 years, and during that time they have pursued Three Big Growth Strategies:

1) Acquiring marketing communications and research companies;
2) Setting and enforcing aggressive portfolio company budgets, requiring agency revenue and margin growth through business development, cost reductions, and other efficiencies; and
3) Selling “holding company relationships” to give clients a broad range of agency services across media disciplines – required because their individual agencies did not integrate across disciplines.

There are other holding company initiatives, of course, like providing back-office services for portfolio companies (travel, accounting, IT, etc.) but the Three Big Growth Strategies have dominated their activities. Continue reading

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Managing Marketing: The importance and the difference in marketing to women

Kylie Rogers, Managing Director of Mamamia Women’s Network, and Lauren Joyce, Head of Broad, their strategic consultancy, talk with Darren on how women are driving commerce today, and why marketers may be missing out on this dominant audience by not marketing specifically to them in the way they want to be engaged.
Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing and today I’m here at the Mamma Mia Women’s Network with Kylie Rogers, Managing Director and Lauren Joyce, who’s Head of Broad, which is the strategic consultancy here at Mamamia. Welcome.

Kylie:

Thank you so much for having us, Darren.

Darren:

In actual fact, I should be saying thank you for having me because coming here to Mamamia, as soon as the lift doors open and I saw all of the pictures on the wall and all of the people and the energy I could tell that this was a very different place to work.

Kylie:

I appreciate your saying that. Sometimes in the furore of your working week you forget the energy that really does exist in this place; it’s very progressive. It’s almost tangible.

Darren:

It’s palpable when the doors open. I think that’s why I walked in a bit confused; it was like being hit with this energy and noise. There are workplaces where there are people screaming but it was just this energy that is happening here. It was very exciting. Continue reading

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7 Questions Everyone On Your Marketing Team Should Be Able To Answer

When it comes to setting expectations with your agency(s) – and your marketing team – there are some ‘price-of-entry’ questions everyone should be able to wrap their head around. None are complex, but they are the bedrock of creating harmonious client/agency relationships and ensuring everyone is focused and aligned.

And even if you think your teams are completely clear and in sync with their respective roles and responsibilities, some of the answers (or lack thereof) might surprise you. So, why not test them out? Here is what we believe are the top 7 questions everyone on your business should be able to answer:

What are our expectations?

Whether asked from an individual or corporate perspective, expectations of – and between – everyone should be the starting point. The sting in the tail of this question is that if people can’t answer it, chances are you’ve not been clear or never articulated expectations to begin with – so if there’s a worrying silence after asking it, perhaps it’s an opportunity to bring teams together and let them know. Continue reading

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Is your marketing function centralised, decentralised or distributed?

It is interesting that when you are talking to business people about marketing, the majority seem to think of marketing in the context of marketing communications, or what was not long ago considered Promotions or Advertising, one of the Ps in what was the 4Ps of marketing. This is probably not surprising as promotions and advertising are certainly the high profile and public end of the marketing process and certainly where a significant component of the budget is spent, especially on paid media, but increasingly on owned and earned media too.

But the fact that many organisations think of marketing as the marketing communications area, leaves the question of where are the other traditional marketing functions located within the organisation? The reason for asking is that often when we are what marketing structure do you have the most common answers are either centralised or decentralised. Only to find out that even when it is centralised it is usually only the marketing communications function that is centralised and typically marketing is actually distributed across the organisation.
Continue reading

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How To Improve Briefings To Your Agencies

We often hear complaints about weak marketer-side briefings – both from agencies who receive them and (surprisingly enough) from marketers who admit their briefings aren’t as good as they could be. Even more surprising perhaps is that clients are forthcoming about acknowledging they’re ‘part of the problem’. What’s perplexing perhaps is that when asked, ‘why don’t you fix your briefing process?’ they ask, ‘sure, but how…?’. For anyone asking, we run training workshops for marketers looking to strengthen their internal resources and create stronger working relationships with their agencies, from providing feedback to agencies, to evaluating creative and yes how to write better briefings. But for the purposes of this post, here are a few questions worth asking to help set your teams up for success and writing better briefings: Continue reading

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When “Best Practices” are Worst Practices

Did you hear about the infamous Army briefing during the Vietnam War? “We had to destroy Ben Tre in order to save it.” The briefing referred to a terrible act, the annihilation of a Vietnamese village by overwhelming American firepower, carried out during a terrible war that was lost in any case. So it goes when tactics, rather than strategies dominate a conflict. Less gruesome, but relevant is the bungled tactical war between advertisers and agencies. Well-meaning tactical “best practices,” used extensively and nearly universally by marketing procurement departments, are worst practices that destroy agency capabilities and annihilate partnerships. Unfortunately, agencies are equally complicit in their destruction.

The Relationship War began, like many wars, with a skirmish and a few opening shots. In the ’90’s, media commissions were giving way to labor-based fees, and advertisers were clueless about agency headcounts, salaries, overhead rates, and profit margins (let’s leave aside the stupidity of adopting this labor-based approach). Advertisers asked their agencies to provide the necessary cost details. Agencies demurred, offended by the request, failing to recognize that procurement folks had been used to knowing intimate details from their manufacturing and distribution suppliers, and they expected the same transparency from their marketing communications suppliers. The agency refusal to cooperate infuriated procurement. As one exasperated executive told me in 2003, “Who the hell do they think they are, anyway? A bunch of prima donnas. I’m going to whack their fees by 10% — maybe that will send them a message.” Agency fee cutting became procurement’s raison d’être, and over the decades fee-cutting took on many sophisticated forms: Continue reading

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Six reasons why you may have many more agencies and suppliers than you need

We provide a very popular solution called Agency Roster Alignment where we analyse and map the current roster against the advertiser’s strategic needs, spend and satisfaction with the incumbents. Some of the really common responses when we report back on the current rosters is, first, many are surprised at the number of agencies and marketing vendors on the roster and, second, how they could have ended up in this situation with so many agencies and suppliers. Let me deal with the first response and then expand on the second in the observation points below.

First off, when we take about rosters we are not simply talking about the major agencies such as creative, media and digital, plus perhaps a PR company, a design studio, and that sales promotion firm you use occasionally. We are talking about all of the agencies, suppliers and vendors that you spend your budget with, including market research firms, event companies, mail houses, technology solutions providers, and everyone in between.

Just as marketing has become more complex, the number of vendors, agencies and suppliers has grown too. But the fact is there are some very solid reasons as to why you may have more agencies and suppliers than you need. And that is not a good thing, as each extra one on your roster is consuming time and money by just being there. Continue reading

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Take the Pledge! End Madison Avenue’s Manslaughter!

Madison Avenue’s self-destructive practices need to come to an end!  In the wake of a decade or more of marketing cost reductions, CMOs have lost credibility and power; procurement departments have confused benchmarking with marketing, and demoralised agencies have seen their capabilities severely compromised through downsizing, juniorising, and Scope of Work inflation. Cost reduction programs have run their course. They were never a credible substitute for brand growth as a way of delivering shareholder value. Continue reading

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