Masterclass Notes: New business approaches that work
by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) What is the secret? What is the magic ingredient that will get agencies through the doors of marketers?
Three leading marketers assisted us with this masterclass — Leo Smit, Kyknet marketing lead; Roberta Donovan, Ascendis Health head of marketing, skin & beauty; and Katharine Liese, 1Life Insurance marketing GM — as well as the input from 217 marketers who contributed to the SCOPEN agencyScope 2017/2018 study on this particular topic.
[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.]
AgencyScope revealed that creative agencies in South Africa on average are making about 14 cold calls (email or telephone) to marketers per annum. This is the lowest rate among the agencies and marketers in 12 countries where SCOPEN conducts its agencyScope study. Of those calls, agencies are only invited to present in about one out of six instances. So, the hit rate is low — and again the lowest among the 12 Scopen countries (UK, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, China, South East Asia and India, plus South Africa).
Interestingly, when the agencies do get in to see and present to the marketers, there is a high success rate in being appointed — more than 50% of those presentations result in a successful agency appointment. If that is the case, we could encourage agencies to make more calls, meet more marketers, make more presentations. But what is the secret? What is the magic ingredient that will get the agency through the door?
According to agencyScope, it is “research about my sector” that will intrigue marketers enough to want to see an agency. Ideas and new information tailored to meet the marketers’ needs, not necessarily creative work, — will open those doors.
Tips from the panel
Our panel confirmed this in person as follows:
- Phone calls don’t work — all three marketers avoid answering the phone if they don’t know who it is
- LinkedIn works, especially if the approach is tailored to suit the marketer
- If an agency is going to send credentials through, don’t use an out-of-date marketer’s logo to personalise them
- Referrals from other marketers
- Inventive desk drops, as long as these are not bribes or seen to be bribes by procurement
- Seminars hosted by agencies “where we will learn something new”
- Reputation of an agency is important: marketers will find out about the agencies if they are in contact — it will help if the agency has a good profile via business wins and growth
- Chemistry, an essential ingredient in the relationship
- Proposals should always include costs so that marketers know in advance if they can afford the agency, otherwise time and effort will be wasted by both parties
- Will the marketer be important in that agency? Size matters as attention is important
- Marketers would rather test an agency out with a project to begin with
- Marketers know that it is hard to find a “one-size-fits-all” agency; marketers expect to work with a few agencies
- Lead generation is important to the success of the marketer, and may easily be incentivised on a risk-and-reward basis
- Retainers work but need regular reviews in order to correctly allocate resources and reallocate as necessary
- Procurement vs marketing: yes, there are tensions — part of the territory — it may take up to three months to get registered on the vendor database
- New agencies will always interest marketers, especially if they’re doing new things
Tips from marketers
Finally, some tips for agencies from the marketers:
- Build the relationship — don’t expect to sign a deal at the first meeting
- Have a strategy to reach that marketer
- Focus on the key clients that you really want
- Be disruptive — how will your agency stand out?
- Build your agency’s reputation — through good sustainable PR.
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.
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