Masterclass Notes: What marketers are looking out for in 2019
by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) Six leading marketers and representatives from 21 agencies attended the first Masterclass for 2019 on Tuesday 29 January in Sandton. The session was very interactive with many, many questions which the marketers were more than willing to answer.
Organisations represented included: Coca-Cola, Absa, Ascendis Health, JSE, PPS and Interwaste. It was a record turnout for this highly anticipated session and certainly got our programme for 2019 off to a great start. Here are the highlights.
Biggest challenge faced in 2018
Before talking about the future, we quickly reviewed the past and asked the marketers to define their biggest challenges from 2018. These challenges ranged included:
- Persuading company founders of the value of changing their logo
- Streamlining the number of marketing suppliers for greater levels of efficiency
- Ensuring that the brands were relevant and understood
- Managing a number of agencies
- Managing the rapid changes within the marketing department
2019 budgets —where are we now?
Marketers commented that their budgets for 2019 are now similar in size to those of 2012 or 2014. So, budgets are not increasing. This means that there have to be much greater levels of focus on key brands, as well as solid metrics and deliverables. While in some cases there might be small increases in some budgets, depending on area of the business, these have to be managed carefully in a difficult economy.
Working with agencies — how can agencies work better with marketers in these times?
- Marketers want their agencies to have a deep understanding of the target audience that the marketer is trying to reach. They also expect their agencies to invest the time in understanding the audience in a far more precise way, given the tools that are available now. Understanding the consumer journey is a vital part of what agencies need to be able to do and to provide input to their clients.
- Agencies also need to be prepared to understand that an advertising campaign is not always what is needed to reach the target audience and should be prepared to employ other communication methods.
- Understanding the marketer’s business model should be a critical part of the agency learnings.
- Marketers have to be able to totally trust their agencies — transparency of thinking and related costs is therefore key. Most marketers have to rely heavily on their agencies and don’t want to have to check every detail all of the time, as this impedes the relationship and slows down the processes.
- Marketers rely on agencies to ‘bring the outside in’ so that the marketer can always be up to date on innovation and possibilities.
Collaboration among agencies in the marketer’s ecosystem — is it working?
- There is no silver bullet
- Marketers want to rely on their partners
- There is no place for egos
- The channel will dictate which agency should lead — this is not restricted to the creative agency
A day in the life of the marketer — and how this affects the agencies.
While agencies may spend a lot of time thinking about brands and advertising communications — as that is their business — marketers have many other needs to fulfil within their organisations:
- Building skills and processes among the marketing teams
- Strategy and positioning work, creating stories around brands which agencies will be able to bring to life
- Working with procurement and legal
- 95% of a marketer’s time is NOT spent with agencies
- Marketers have to be in constant contact with all of their other business stakeholders
Remuneration — retainers, project fees or a hybrid?
- Retainers are preferred in most cases but MUST be based on scope-of-work and not calculated on hours and resources
- The above is the only way that accountability may happen on both sides
- Output-based scopes of work are the only way that both client and agencies can be measured
- A hybrid model of a basic retainer for “always-on” work, plus project fees
- Bonuses are not the norm any longer and, if they are built in, they must be linked to results on a joint basis with client
- Marketers would love to reward agencies with extra funds, based on agreed KPIs and an upside.
Some final words
In this new era, where social media and online advertising are the norm, creative content for brands is key. It must be fast, creatively relevant to the channel and cost-effective. Defaulting to a TV commercial is not the only option — purpose-led marketing and adverting have become more important.
Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) is MD 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. She also runs 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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