Marketing agencies and marketing teams work together on campaigns and marketing projects. But how far does “together” extend? In practice, after a briefing, the agency starts working internally, reporting and planning via mail, Excel, pdf and meetings. The one party, the agency, executes; the other party, the client, gives feedback. This is repeated until the campaign or project is completed. This works great for creative projects such as rebranding. But what if the agency actively participates in campaigns, for example for content, advertising or PR? Should “together” not really be “together”, in a shared marketing planning? Utopia according to one, because an agency organization does not correspond to a team organization with a client. Hard reality according to us, because marketing technology offers perfect solutions.
The classic, integrated agency still exists, but in recent years it has been supplemented by niche agencies that specialize in one specific marketing domain. On the other hand, the marketing team underwent the same evolution: the marketing manager is still at the center of the organization, but is assisted by niche marketers who are strong(er) within their specific knowledge domain.
Creating or expanding marketing teams is therefore a mix of recruitment, insourcing, hiring and outsourcing to marketing agencies. Marketing managers in companies are constantly looking for the balance between their own people, insourced marketers, freelancers and marketing agencies. And that puts both the internal communication and the communication and cooperation with external parties under pressure.
At the beginning of 2019 we conducted a market research within marketing agencies in Belgium and the Netherlands. We did this on the basis of qualitative research, individual surveys and various workshops with a dozen agencies. We sought an answer to the questions "How can communication with and reporting to the client be better?" and "What role does marketing technology play in this?"
Our conclusion? The ecosystem that runs the planning and reporting between the marketing agency and the client consists of seven domains:
Every agency interviewed, from freelancer to internationally integrated agency, is active for its clients in multiple planning areas. Let's take the example of a digital agency that works for a retailer:
No matter how professional external agencies are, our market survey shows that it is a special challenge to streamline these seven planning domains with the internal organization within the marketing team. In practice, communication and reporting between the agency and the client is mainly based on personal meetings, mail traffic and file sharing (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, PDF, etc.). Every marketing agency surveyed acknowledges that there is room here for time optimization and efficiency gains. In other words: marketing agencies lose a lot of time sending marketing data to the client and processing the feedback. That is not due to the quality of the data. It depends on the way in which the data flow runs between the agency and the client. Agencies realize that one day they will have to put a stop to the constant stream of e-mails, Excels and PDFs.
The outcome of our market survey was clear: communication between the agency and the client (the marketing team) must happen less via email, Excel and PDF, in order to gain time and efficiency and to avoid misunderstandings. This requires a turnaround within the agency organization, but it also requires a professional alternative.
That alternative presents itself in the form of various marketing technology players (Software As A Service or SAAS providers). A current overview of the marketing technology landscape can be found on chiefmartec.com. These systems are rapidly gaining a market within the world of marketing agencies. The big difference with the 'on premise' systems or server software that many agencies still use today is the possibility to collaborate with the client. Intelligent rights systems can enable the client to access the planning and to provide immediate feedback.
Based on feedback during the market survey, at Husky we tailored our planning tool even more to marketing agencies who believe that the future of communication and reporting with the client lies in shared marketing planning. Our vision is that marketing agencies benefit most from one central planning tool that combines campaign planning or project planning with task planning, digital proofing, timesheets, budget planning, KPI dashboards and the campaign strategy.
In an ideal world, we see agencies working according to a transparent model, whereby they manage their entire internal operation in terms of planning, communication and reporting with the client on a central platform through a planning tool such as Husky. The client then has full or partial access to the planning and actively cooperates with it, or a link is made with the client's planning software.
This blog article is part of a series on shared marketing planning for efficient collaboration. Below you'll find all the articles that will help you find your way around.