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

“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.

Here are our top three tips for better performing video content:

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%).

 

 

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?

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:

Optimizing Hybrid Work Models

When evaluating return to office and hybrid work model plans, some HR departments could be making a critical mistake applying an office schedule that is most convenient for the executive team to the whole organization.  It is clearly easier to keep tabs on employees when they are in the office on the same days each week, but that doesn’t necessarily optimize outputs for different departments or functions.

How we work should inform the who, what, where, when of our work – rather than vice versa.

There has been a lot of focus over the past two years on where we work: remote, in-office, or a hybrid work model. What has gone less examined, at least in my news feeds, is HOW we work. How does the location we are in, the people we are surrounded by, and the type of tasks we are completing, affect how we work and the output we are creating? How we work should inform the who, what, where, when of our work – rather than vice versa.

When examining how I work, I have fought desperately throughout my career to move away from the urgent and towards the non-urgent but important, as outlined by the eisenhower matrix.  This is the ‘blue ocean’ strategy within your organization, even within your own day.  I encourage this practice with my employees because it’s the place where you are most likely to begin to build their ‘own agenda’ based on your understanding of the company’s needs.  In my experience, it’s where I get the deepest, least distracted work done.

As an organization, how can you ensure you are implementing policies which will allow your employees to do the same within a flexible work-anywhere model, or hybrid work model? 

Build accountability through trust and communication

Many large and traditional employers are threatened by the idea of work-anywhere policies. How will I know if my employees are actually working? The root issue here isn’t about the work environment, but about accountability and trust. Managers need to stop tracking meaningless metrics (ie. mouse activity and hours online) and start looking at actual output. Our VP of Marketing, Ryan Green, advocates for, “being transparent and evaluating people based on the quality of their work and not the quantity of time they’ve logged in”. This allows employees to focus on important-but-not urgent work rather than prioritizing small check-list items to project a sense of productivity. Establish clear expectations, assign responsibilities, and set reasonable deadlines while giving your team flexibility in the output. Set your basic “measurement framework”, then allow employees to deliver outcomes in a way that works for their personal style. 

Encourage flexible communication styles with a hybrid work model

Both managers and employees need to be especially attuned to communication styles.  If over 90% of communication is non-verbal, then less in-person interaction will inevitably challenge robust communication. Video conferencing helps a lot but isn’t a complete substitute.  Time still needs to be given to in-person interaction, including casual interaction and conversation, even if it is less frequent than the traditional office environment.

Balance attention to detail and ambiguity

Managing a remote workforce will inevitably lead to a degree of ambiguity.  However, this increased ambiguity can spur creative thinking and allow people to have more ownership over their role and responsibilities. On the other hand, vague directions and goals can leave people feeling lost and unmotivated, so it is important to maintain a healthy balance. At Coegi, we have brought in a project management tool to lay out tasks, deadlines and shared progress updates across teams. This allows greater transparency but prevents constant calls and pings between coworkers about project status. 

Redefine work/life balance

Creating work/life balance doesn’t just mean having a life outside of your job. Josh Waitzkin, in his book, The Art of Learning, emphasizes the importance of taking breaks and developing a short routine to refresh and focus throughout the day. I’ve found that implementing these small breaks during the work day can have a huge impact on my productivity, mental clarity, and overall state of mind. With flexible and hybrid work models, we can reframe the standard workday and let employees have greater ownership over their day to day routine.

At the end of the day, you cannot force good culture. Instead, do the work to create an accountable environment with strong frameworks set in place. From there, employees and managers will inevitably create organic culture and transform your company from within.

Why Work Location Matters, But Not as Much as You Think

A lot of attention of late has been focused on the binary choice of work from home vs. work at the office.  Many companies have split the difference and advocated for a hybrid work model, in the name of flexibility.  And for good reason… when they survey their employees, opinions split vastly by age, gender, parental status and seniority.  But this isn’t a binary choice, as many knowledge workers have the power to work not just from the home or office, but from anywhere.  It is not just executives anymore that have the luxury of typing thought pieces from an airport lounge between flights or finishing new business presentations over a nightcap at the hotel bar.  The definition of the ‘office’ is changing for many, with co-working spaces or coffee shop networks replacing a stand-alone office space dedicated to a single company.

Work from anywhere isn’t new.  Our friends at Zapier have been doing it since their inception in 2011.  It doesn’t take an expert in workplace psychology to see some of the potential benefits, like commute times. However, people that work exclusively from home experience the highest level of employee exhaustion, compared to in-person or hybrid employees, according to a study from our partners at TinyPulse that surveyed over 700 HR professionals.   For creative workers, inspiration and creativity often don’t come by staring at the same four walls all of the time, whether at the office or at their homes.

A work-anywhere policy doesn’t have to mean fully remote

Forrester estimates that, post-pandemic, only 18.2MM people will be eligible to work from home 100% of the time, which is less than 12% of the US workforce.  Many companies are opting for a hybrid model to meet somewhere in the middle. Working from anywhere is a “people first, place second” mentality that translates trust and value to employees from a corporation.

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?

Stop being afraid of a hybrid work model

At the end of the day, companies need to stop being afraid of work-anywhere models. If you set strong frameworks from an organizational level and empower employees with the tools and ability to reverse engineer their work to be optimal for them, work-anywhere can work, well, anywhere.

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. 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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