Practical Strategy – Agency is not good enough….maybe I´m not good enough


Of course, there are good and bad agencies, no matter if integral or specialized in one marketing area, if big or small.

Sometimes I hear marketers say they have a good agency. But I hear more frequently marketers saying that agencies are bad….or not good enough, not strategic or slow. Curiously, sometimes people in the same organization say different.

On the other hand, there is a said in marketing. For me this said is the first step about agency management: Every marketer has the agency (or agencies) that deserves.

Agency management is far beyond the purchasing process, proposal evaluation or pushing and blaming for results. That´s only the very superficial start.

At the end, we want business results. Depending on the industry, our company and our role, we could have more actions oriented to sales push or pull, more brand building or more point of sale, more media or more public relations. But for sure, we need to have fully coordinated actions in all of the commercial mix elements.

We can have agencies by project, several agencies by monthly fee or one integral agency. At the end, the goal is to be aligned with the strategy in every proposal.

That is the first step to make a good agency management: We need to know the strategy and stick ourselves to it in all our actions. If you don’t know the strategy or you are not consistent on it…..How your agencies will be?

Sounds easy, but that requires marketing technical skills and organizational savvy skills (called sometimes political skills) to manage and moderate the trend to react and change direction too fast, so common in modern organizations. If we transmit these fast pace changes to the agencies as raw messages, they won’t find the path.

The most common model today it’s to have a pull of specialized agencies: Media, PR, digital, BTL, production, advertising, social. Too many specialized topics for only one agency.

At the end, all of them must work as one, no matter if they are competitors or brother agencies, if they are organized as cells or not (only few companies have the cell approach and it’s not a warranty of results). Make them work as one is our task as marketers. This challenge takes two key skills:

Leadership, result oriented leadership, friendship and celebrations are a consequence, not a cause. Leadership and follow up with discipline in the frequency of review and consistency with the strategy.

Active Listening. As marketers, we are not specialist in nothing, but we must understand the principles and roles of everything, not only agencies, from factory to point of sales and everything in the middle. Then challenge specialists with facts, not with opinions. Only if you listened you will be able.

If you know and understand the strategy, give good direction to your team (yes, agencies are your team, besides direct reports), listen and lead effectively your team, you will have a much better chance to meet your business goals.

You will also gain other collateral benefits, probably some prices, many success cases for your agencies, maybe invitations to talk about some topic you think you are not expert, a team that will support you giving whole nights for you, even if you are wrong they will cover your back and you will win friends for the rest of your life.

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