Masterclass Notes: What marketers want & how agencies should assist
by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) What are marketers looking out for in 2018 and how do they want agencies to assist them? This was the topic of the first marketing masterclass for 2018 for agency subscribers. As usual, there was an almost full house for this session — the opportunity for agencies to hear directly from marketers is extremely important. What is also true is that, in the day-to-day normal exchanges between agencies and their clients, bigger business issues are often neglected or not discussed due to time constraints.
The marketers were three experienced leaders in their respective fields:
- Alison Badenhorst, head of corporate marketing at Rand Merchant Bank (previously with Standard Bank) and with 17 years’ experience in the financial services industry
- Mamongae Mahlare, category director/channel development manager, stills, Coca-Cola Bottling South Africa and with a 20-year career in marketing and business
- Grant van Niekerk, leader chocolate, sub-Saharan Africa, Mondelēz — an innovative thinker with many years of marketing experience at top level.
The future is still uncertain
All three marketers agreed on this, with global politics (Brexit and Trump) as well as local politics taking centre stage. Trust is more and more important, and a key issue for consumers and brands.
Driving growth in revenue
This remains the key issue for companies within a low-growth environment such as South Africa. Although prospects look better than they did a few months ago, a lot of hard work still needs to be done. The rest of Africa is becoming more and more important in order to supplement growth expectations in South Africa. So, marketing efforts have to increase sales, even more so than they did in better times.
Return on investment (ROI)
Digital return on investment is great — so much easier to track and measure — but will the investment drive sales? That is, and remains, the critical question. The recent SCOPEN research indicated that spend in digital has increased from 18% of total marketing spend to 24% in 2017 period. The marketers agreed that this figure looked correct.
[Full disclosure: Scopen Global and Mazole Holdings (the company that owns IAS 100%) have formed a company in South Africa called Scopen Africa. Scopen Global holds the majority of the shares; Mazole is a minority shareholder. Johanna McDowell is a director of Scopen Africa, as is Cesar Vacchiano, Global CEO of Scopen.]
The media landscape
The marketers indicated that they would like to have more direct interaction with media owners and to know more about what is happening with media as it becomes more and more fragmented and complex. Use of media in the overall marketing efforts is an important factor.
This remains at the forefront of discussions among marketers and their agencies.
A day in the life of a marketer
There are more and more meetings, and a greater involvement in the running of the overall business. There is less and less time to devote to the art and science of marketing and advertising. The more senior the marketer, the less time spent in discussion regarding brands and branding.
Tips from the marketers to the agencies
- Demand time from your clients: partnerships cannot work without time being devoted by both parties
- Be proactive: take your ideas to your clients and keep doing this — they are sorely needed
- Have deeper conversations with your clients: don’t skim the surface
- Don’t send the A team for pitches and then the B team to service the account
- Be “present” in meetings: stay off email and phones
- Own your performance: How are your campaigns going to be measured? Make sure you know and are aligned with client expectations
- Meetings should always have agendas
- What is your value add? What can you tell the client that it hasn’t asked for?
- Tell the clients what you need as an agency in order to fulfill their objectives to grow: don’t hold back
- Less suits, more strategy: clients need help with strategy and value strategic discussion — so less order-taking and more strategy and business discussions.
- Ensure that you receive great briefs from clients and “sweat the briefs”
- Induct the clients into your agency processes.
Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) is managing director of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), which is partnered with the AAR Group in the UK. Johanna is one of the few experts driving this mediation and advisory service in SA and globally. Currently she is running the IAS Marketers Masterclass, a programme consisting of masterclasses held in Cape Town and in Johannesburg. Twice a year she attends AdForum Worldwide Summits.