How fast or far you can run only matters if you run in the right direction: Discover how brand advertisers can ensure the effective use of budgets and talent with an integrated approach to managing agency partnerships.
By Bruno Gralpois
Author/Speaker, Thought-provocateur, Client/Agency Guru, Entrepreneur, Innovator
In the 1994 American film Forrest Gump, based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom, slow-witted, but kind-hearted and good-natured Forrest (Tom Hanks) tries to escape some bullies chasing him. The scene is unforgettable, as Forrest’s leg braces fall off revealing he’s a very fast runner. His superb athletic abilities lead to him receiving a football scholarship to the University of Alabama. Clearly, running very fast or far doesn’t hurt—as long as, of course, you’re not running in circles, or in the wrong direction.
The same concept applies to any marketing organization. Too often, the ineffective use of budgets and agency talent is a bit like running fast and getting nowhere. You burn a lot of energy and resources, and they eventually run dry. Well aware of the critical need to run smooth and effective operations, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) assemble all the necessary ingredients for a formula to success that looks a bit like this:
Wearing multiple hats, CMOs must set the right priorities for their organizations, and secure the right talent internally and externally, working with the right agency partners. They must implement the right processes to operate productively and expediently. They must leverage the right tools and capabilities to improve performance and streamline everyday marketing operations. Once all those components have been gathered and organized, the CMO has the ingredients necessary to operationalize and scale for success.
This formula is heavily dependent on the organization’s ability to steer these valuable external human and financial resources in the right direction to act as a natural extension of its internal team, and turn the entire marketing organization into an effective powerhouse. The thoughtful management of agency relationships – whether those are internal or external agencies – is increasingly seen as a critical strategic function within marketing or procurement organizations. Leading brands understand that having the right talent doing work that has been properly scoped, at the right cost, combined with the right resources and streamlined processes, is a vital part of their marketing success. Yet many of these activities are often labor intensive and siloed, limiting management’s ability to make effective and timely decisions.
At Agency Mania Solutions, we like to refer to it as the integrated approach to managing agency partnerships, as shown below. This approach allows brand advertisers to automate key processes and leverage data across multiple agency management applications to improve coordination of activities and decision making through integrated reporting and easy-to-use dashboards.
The alternative is a fragmented approach with silos of agency data that create excessive redundancies and inefficiencies. These marketers miss the opportunity to provide a holistic view into the many facets—financial, talent, performance, outputs, and more—of their agency partnerships.
Although the vision is compelling, the reality is that brand advertisers will find themselves at different levels of organizational readiness as they build and phase in these agency management competencies over time. Some of our most experienced clients have successfully built and implemented these integrated agency partnership programs, from annual planning, scope of work management, assignment/project briefing, and roster management, to readiness training and onboarding, as well as relationship and performance evaluations. It allows these thought leaders to operate faster and more efficiently, improving the collaboration with their agencies, which in turn leads to higher performance and better use of marketing dollars.
Before you start racing Forrest to the finish line, make sure you are running in the right direction. And make sure you’re ready to operate at a whole new level of operational efficiency with all your resources working well together, so you can manage your agency investment wisely.