How to Make Brand-Agency Relationships Last

Account Strategy Director, Danielle Wesolowski, discusses how to improve brand-agency relationships by putting client needs first through a strategy centered on togetherness and collaboration.

Brands, have you ever felt the frustration of receiving a media plan or creative from an agency that was completely different from what you had envisioned?

Agencies, have you ever hung up a client call feeling completely blind-sided about the direction and expectations for your campaign?

Misalignment between brand and agency teams can quickly build into frustration. How can we avoid the missteps that build tension between agency and brand teams and minimize the resulting efficiency losses? The work must start within teams. Then you can develop clear brand-agency collaboration to support strong marketing strategies and positive working relationships.

Coegi has an internal framework surrounding everything we do called the Coegi Way. There are four pillars: attitude, approach, service and culture. Looking through this lens, let’s explore how to build successful brand-agency relationships.

Attitude: The Sky’s the Limit

When initiating a new brand-agency partnership, or just a new campaign, start your process with an open mind. Take time to collaboratively brainstorm with each other – considering out of the box options. Sometimes we become so process-oriented we lose sight of the opportunities in front of us.

Add regular brainstorms into your process to audit competition, evaluate future opportunities, and find new ways to leverage existing capabilities. The goal is to “put yourself in a position with clarity of mind to execute at high levels of efficiency, innovation, and real creativity”.  Delight your client by reimagining possibilities for their brand.

Thought starters for impactful brainstorming: 

  • What are those things we would do if we could just remove the barriers?
  • What’s keeping us from incredible innovation, real creativity, and surpassing client expectations–or our own expectations?

Approach: Empower and Align Teams

Approach your collaborative marketing strategy like a chess board: assess the field of play and then implement your strategy. Both brands and agencies must enable their teams to do great work. To enable means giving people the power to take action, but also giving strength and confidence.

While strong teams value individual contributors, they must work together cohesively as a unit to win. Each person on your team should be providing the same experience to the client no matter who they talk to. If a different answer is given depending on who you ask – the team needs to be realigned. The same goes for in-house marketing teams and executives. If the CMO approves a campaign but the CEO enters the conversation and last minute vetoes key creatives or channels, this can cause major issues. Internal teams must be empowered to make decisions while understanding overall goals before they can effectively work with external partners.

Service: Understand the client’s needs

Agencies build lasting and trusting relationships with brands when they demonstrate a strong understanding of the client’s needs and provide tactical plans to act on those needs and deliver impactful solutions. The expectation we set for account team members at Coegi is, 

“An individual should be able to demonstrate a full understanding of their clients’ business needs and translate this knowledge into an actionable cadence of strategic and tactical plans leveraging the strengths of integrated digital communication channels to deliver consistent, differentiated and valued customer experiences.” 

This is crucial because 30% of marketing professionals surveyed believe not understanding their brand completely is the top barrier to successful brand-agency relationships, according to eMarketer.

We often take client requests and run with them. This is especially true in performance media, where campaign activation is agile and ever-evolving. When possible, facilitate more discussions before the tactical phase. Really understand client goals first and define the best way to reach those together. For example, when a client gives you a specific target audience, talk through the justification for that audience. Also, explore other potential options, and ensure their plan is optimized to reach their goals and aligned with your capabilities.

Culture: Meet Clients Where They are Comfortable

Translate your culture as an agency or team to your client. Find ways to connect with brand teams to allow both cultures to play off each other. Open the right communication channels to make your client comfortable whether it be group Zooms, 1:1 calls, or short emails.

Keith Schwartz, CEO of Bounteous, quotes, “It’s really about forming a partnership where you can leverage the best of both organizations. Mature business leaders understand that having a partner with knowledge capital about their industry creates a lot of value.”

MediaCause article issues a warning, “ if you don’t establish a partner relationship from the start, you’ll more than likely forever be treated as a vendor.”

Never underestimate the importance of relationship building to gain trust with your client. Go beyond that vendor relationship to become a true partner. Give them space to talk candidly about problems, ideas, and goals. Provide honest feedback to each other. You can gain so much more from the client if you create these open communication opportunities.

To sum everything up, my advice is simply this: slow down and focus on collaboration.

Use these questions to improve your brand-agency relationships today:

1) Where do you find the biggest challenges in understanding client needs?

2) What are the biggest barriers to developing strong and trustworthy client relationships?

3) What would you like to do differently to enhance those relationships?

If you’re interested in exploring a partnership with Coegi, contact us today to schedule a discovery call.

3 Tips for Better Performing Video Content

The Top 3 Benefits of Video Advertising

Are you capitalizing on the benefits of video advertising?

Programmatic video advertising is growing rapidly. Many growth brands are seeing the benefits of incorporating this highly engaging medium in their marketing mix.

However, there are still those who are unwilling to make the upfront investment to create these assets, fearing it requires too much money and too much time. That’s understandable, especially for brands operating with a very lean marketing budget.

Coegi’s Director of Marketing, Elise Stieferman, shares three reasons why your brand should avoid leaving video out of the marketing strategy:

The Opportunity Cost of Not Using Video Ads

To summarize that video, there are three reasons why brands are missing out if they aren’t leaning into video advertising.

#1 Video Drives Incremental Sales

It may not seem blatantly obvious, but brands are actually losing out on sales if they aren’t investing in video. Historically, video has been seen as an upper funnel tactic. It’s all about awareness and gaining brand rapport. This can be true, especially for a longer form video where you’re telling a story. But videos are also very integral to building consideration before purchasing a product. Sometimes, it even leads to the end conversion.

This is especially true of short form videos. I know a lot of people are afraid of six-second videos not being effective. However, that’s the way digital is going these days. Obviously, there’s a lot of things trying to grab consumers attention, especially on social media. So brands have to quickly explain the value of the product and compel action. 

Video advertising is a more personal way to connect with the consumers. It’s more impactful in a lot of ways than a display ad. Those are simply static banners, whereas video is compelling you to stop, pay attention and consider the next steps 

#2 Video Improves the Customer Lifetime Journey

The second thing brands should consider is the customer lifetime journey. Video can build greater affinity. This is especially true for people who already know your brand. It’s easy to pivot to other brands with a similar offering, especially if it’s lower cost. But if you use video to build connection and affinity, it will be positive for your brand.

Another thing to consider is how you can use video to educate the consumer. Think about creating useful how-to videos. Help them visually see the value in investing in your brand. Then, there’s the excitement around generating new leads for your brand using video. 

But there’s also the consideration of building repeat purchasers. For example, serving videos that highlight different products to upsell or compliment their existing purchases. There’s no better way to do that than this very highly engaging medium.

#3 Video Increases Brand Recognition

Lastly, video can generate buzz around your brand. Of course, people appreciate reading reviews online. But when you think about platforms like TikTok and YouTube, video is really what’s capturing attention. It’s a very shareable medium. If you want to go viral and create a moment for your brand, video is the way to go. 

Video can seem expensive. But it doesn’t have to be high production quality. It can be user-generated content that comes from your iPhone that’s six seconds long and that even feels more authentic on social platforms. 

The longer we wait to dip our toes into the water, the further behind we’re going to be for our brands. Now is the time to invest in video and understand you are going to get that return. It may be a longer journey before you see that investment come back, but it ultimately will feed into your bottom line.

Now that we know the benefits of using video, let’s explore how to maximize the impact of your video ads.

How to Create Better Performing Video Advertisements

“Humans are incredibly visual and powerful, moving images help us find meaning…video helps capture and contextualize the world around us.”

– Dan Patterson, Digital Platform Manager for ABC News Radio

Digital video consumption is on the rise and forecasted to reach $12.66B by 2024. How are marketers adapting to changing consumer trends and creating better performing video content?

Recent studies show that the increased ad spend towards digital is a worthy investment as video is the #1 preferred content form to see from brands on social media. Additionally, video has major down funnel implications. 71% of consumers report purchasing a product or service after watching a brand’s video.

Compiling a quick video and using it across all channels, however, is not a strategy that drives results for businesses. Consider where and how long you have your audiences’ attention. This will help you avoid wasting the resources and budget you have dedicated to high performing video content. Your videos must also be intentional, authentic, and targeted to resonate with your audience.

3 Tips to Improve Your Video Marketing Content:

#1 Remember time is money

With the recent popularity of short-form video formats like TikTok and Instagram Stories, conversions are now outperforming longer-form video. Brands have mere seconds to capture their audiences’ ever-shortening attention. According to a report by Analytic Partners, this shift has translated into much higher ROI for 6-second videos (127%) than it does 30-second videos (58%).

 

Long-format videos certainly have their place, but when designing ad campaigns, make sure your content catches attention immediately and keeps your audience captivated throughout. Shortening viewing times also mean you need to make sure your product and brand both appear within the first few seconds. Otherwise, the user will likely scroll away before they understand your offering.

#2 Meet your audiences where they are

Not all video viewing experiences are the same, especially when you consider the difference between desktop and mobile viewing.  Penthera reports that 74% of consumers are watching video content on their mobile device or tablet, where the standard horizontal video appears much smaller and allows other content to be displayed along with it. With multiple items competing for attention, the viewer may decide to continue on to the next item instead of consuming the entirety of your ad. To combat this, consider framing your videos vertically so the video fills the screen. This makes your ad easier for viewers to see and focus on.

92% of consumers now watch video on mobile with sound off. So designing ads to be seen and understood without audio has become crucial. This could be telling your story entirely through visual elements or adding closed captioning to the final product. According to a report from Verizon Media and Publicis Media, “when captions are available, 37% of viewers said they are encouraged to turn the sound on.” These videos seem more interesting, and 29% said that even with the sound off, they were better able to understand the video because of the captioning. With that in mind, incorporating captions can be an easy way to boost video campaign ROI without increasing your budget.

#3 Be a story-teller, not a movie director

The single most impactful component of video performance is the creative. An Analytic Partners study found, 70% of the potential ROI comes from the creative itself.” This does not mean, however, that you “push out Oscar Award-winning video content for every commercial or video,” as our Account Strategy Director, Maggie Gotszling, said when asked about her recommendation for better performing video. There are baseline levels of quality to aim for: decent resolution, good lighting and audio. But, the key for video performance is to capture the viewer’s attention with visual interest and a strategically designed story.

In a recent publication, The Lab outlines several principles to consider while strategically designing your video content. There were three on their list we think are especially impactful for improving marketing ROI:

  1. Be short and succinct
  2. Flip the standard storytelling arc
  3. Build visual interest with eye-catching graphics.

Short and succinct messaging serves two purposes. First, making sure the viewer has a chance to consume the message fully before they scroll. Second, ensuring your messaging is clear and memorable, leaving no room for confusion. If the video has too much fluff, complexity, or goes on too long, you risk losing their attention.

When you shorten the message, also consider rearranging the story arc so the most engaging piece comes first. Historical story arcs take their time. First they establishing key elements and players. Then they build to an energetic conflict and eventually resolve the issue at the end.

To grab and keep attention with video ads, however, you’ll want to flip the script. Start the story with the high energy moment and conclude shortly after. This will “slow the scroll” of your viewer and hold their attention more effectively. If your video needs to be on the longer side, add multiple twists and turns throughout to sustain interest.

Another way to grab viewers attention is to add visual interest with eye-catching graphics and fast-moving edits. Our eyes naturally follow things that move quickly, so adding this will also contribute to scroll-slowing. When you combine these cuts with the shorter message and flipped story arc, you will have done the bulk of the needed work to hook your audience and lay the foundation for conversion.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Time is money: Get to the core of your message and display your branding/offering as soon as you can.  If you opt for a longer video, design the messaging strategically (see Takeaway #3).
  • Meet your audience where they are: Design the frame and video contents for mobile viewing. Crop the frame vertically, rely on visual storytelling and/or include closed captioning.
  • Be a story-teller, not a movie director: Reach basic technical quality standards then focus your efforts on crafting an effective story arc. Start with a bang and include surprising twists and turns.

Recommended Reading:

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Why Your Agency Should Handle Your Influencer Marketing

The growth of influencer marketing is undeniable, and for good reason. Brands are seeking solutions that build awareness but also drive authenticity in order to grow trust and loyalty.

“People can break through the noise…people trust people. Influence is about relationships.” – Ty Heath, Director of Market Engagement, The B2B Institute at LinkedIn

Brands are clearly seeing the potential of influencers as close to ⅔ of US advertisers have worked with influencers in the last year now making it an over $3 billion dollar industry (growing approximately 33% this year alone). Much of this is due to TikTok’s rise and the ability for creators to drive virality, even causing products to sell out overnight. However, influencers have a foothold on a variety of social channels beyond TikTok, including YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, and even Twitch – channels where brands were already advertising which makes influencer a natural extension of a broader marketing strategy. 

Creators have become so important to the commerce ecosystem… they have enabled the intersection of passionate communities and related products at a massive scale.” – Omar Zayat, Head of Industry, e-Commerce, Facebook

Yet, influencer buys are often handled by separate agencies with a sole focus on influencers. Disjointed influencer and paid media efforts impact both strategy and measurement, weakening the value of each dollar invested.  To combat these challenges, it makes sense to work directly with your media agency to ensure cohesion for your brand.  

Maintain a unified cross-channel measurement strategy

Interpreting performance in a way that ties back to the overall media strategy becomes more difficult with each partner added to crowded media plans. Additionally, defining what strong results look like will likely vary between agencies. Some may be prioritizing guaranteed impressions and clicks and while others focus on tying to lower funnel goals. No matter the objective, it is critical to measure the success of an influencer campaign with the same lens as the rest of your digital media channel. A performance media agency can offer that consistency.

Improved agility between platforms

Centralizing paid media to one partner empowers marketers to move budget quickly where performance indicates, whether across channels or within creative rotation. A viral influencer post can be turned into a paid campaign, from the creator’s handle, with proactive campaign management. Similarly, you can pull budget from other channels to amplify high-performing influencer content. 

Synchronize targeting seamlessly

At Coegi, we lead our campaigns with an audience-first approach understanding that precise  targeting reduces media waste. With a performance media agency, you can take a similar approach with your influencer strategy. Media agencies can upload the same first party data segments that you use across the rest of your digital campaigns. Then you can understand which influencers your core customer group is already engaging with.  Additionally, historical learnings across other media platforms can inform future influencer campaigns and help identify the strongest influencers to contract with. 

Recommended reading:

Coegi Recognized as One of Adweek’s Fastest Growing Agencies

We are incredibly honored to announce that Coegi was ranked one of Adweek’s top 75 fastest growing agencies in the US and around the world for two years in a row. After the uncertainty of the past few years due to the ongoing pandemic, this recognition is especially meaningful for us. We know it was difficult for many to see growth in such an unpredictable market and changing workplace environments, but we are proud to see that the dedication of our staff and data partners allowed us to continue to support and lift up our clients. Coegi’s strong culture made up of hard-working, passionate individuals allowed us to learn, grow and ultimately thrive as an organization during one of the most unpredictable years in history.

Our President, Sean Cotton, shares his thoughts on why Coegi was able to still grow during this time and what it means for our staff and our clients to be one of the fastest growing agencies.

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