21 Sep 2022
It might seem trite to point out, but there are tough times ahead for businesses. Headlines at the moment are particularly grim, from the IPA Bellweather report to the IAB. The marketing press is full of stories of brands pulling back on marketing spend and preparing for an uncertain economic climate, and if we know one thing about business and the markets, it’s that uncertainty is always problematic.
With this in mind, organisations need to ensure they have robust, resilient agency models in place to ensure strategy, production and output are all aligned with growth ambitions and wider business goals. It’s essential to connect these dots, and getting your agency model right is a core part of this.
Getting your agency model right
As a part of your wider marketing ecosystem, your agency model is the foundation of your marketing output success. The kind of agencies you work with, how many agencies you have, how much you spend on work, and how you allocate responsibilities all need to be fine tuned into an agency model that’s right for your business. But how do you know if your agency model is working for you, and is robust enough for the future?
Start with the big questions. Is your agency model match fit to support you through the next phase of your business? If not, maybe now is the time to look more closely at how its designed, and what potential changes could be made to improve things. You need to analyse whether you’re getting the most out of your current agencies, whether you have the right balance of capabilities, and whether a change to your agency model could unlock more opportunities.
Is your current agency model working?
There’s probably never been a better - or more important - time to audit your agency model. What are your gaps and overlaps? Where can you drive efficiency? With challenging and uncertain times ahead, you need to ask yourself the fundamental questions - do you have the right agencies, doing the right work, at the right price?
Start at the top with strategy
Are your lead strategic agencies set up and ready to support your plans as they evolve? Have you sat around the table together to talk through your challenges? When it comes to growth, particularly when things are so uncertain, there needs to be clarity of intent, the right stakeholder buy-in and engagement, and a transparent and open relationship with your agencies.
Do your strategic agencies know what your plans for growth are? Do they understand the overall business goals moving forward, and do you have their input and buy-in when it comes to achieving this? You need to make sure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, and this starts at the top.
Is your agency model executing your goals?
Along with strategy, and open and honest assessment of how your agency model is performing in terms of executing your goals should also be at the top of your priority list. Do you have the right executional agencies to cover both the frequency and quantity of work you need to deliver? Can you pull back or pivot if needed?
This applies to both quantity and quality - do your executional agencies have the right experience and capabilities for your requirements? Is their work having a measurable impact, and does their output reflect your growth ambitions?
Have you in-housed the right capabilities?
Effective in-housing is a hugely powerful part of any marketing ecosystem, but it can be challenging to get right. It’s vital to ensure not only the right balance of capabilities between your in-house teams and external partners, but achieving good results with any agency model means knowing how and where to assess how things are going, and this applies to your in-house capabilities as well as your external agency partners. What have you in-housed, is it working well, and what processes do you have in place to measure success?
The beauty of a refined agency model is that when it’s right, everything is streamlined, and responsibility for the whole spectrum of production is shared out efficiently. With this in mind, production decoupling - segmenting ideation and media buying from production - can be hugely effective.
If you feel like you need to be smarter about how your marketing gets delivered, look here, as it’s often a good area to investigate when you need to drive efficiencies. What are your options here? What are your current capabilities? Could decoupling aspects of your production result in a more fluid, effective workflow?
If the forecasts and current trends we’re seeing are an indicator of things to come, then times are only going to get tougher, and resilient, robust agency models are essential. But while many businesses and CMOs know this is the case, it can be hard to know where to begin.
Ultimately, organisations need to have processes in place to be able to effectively assess what is working with their agency model, and what isn’t, and this can be really challenging - particularly considering businesses in every industry have plenty on their plates already.
With tighter budgets, more pressure, and tough economic times ahead, an expert opinion can make all the difference, and for CMOs who are interested in a fresh, outside-in, expert perspective, AAR’s ecosystem audit could make all the difference - we’ll look at full spectrum of your marketing ecosystem, and identify areas to improve, and inspect and analyse your overall agency model design to see where you could be doing things better.