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What Marketers are Looking for from Agencies

In our 30 years of business, denmark@home has worked on a large number of home-centric projects. In the process, we have seen the challenges marketers encounter when choosing and working with their agency partner.

From channels to touchpoints to finding the right balance between outsourcing, insourcing, and in-housing, marketing complexity is increasing faster and faster every day. There are thousands of agencies out there. From two man shops to large holding companies, marketers have the daunting job of finding the right partner.

We have found 4 characteristics that marketers want from their agencies. They are the same no matter the vertical or channels: Simplicity, Speed and Agility, Transparency and Trust, and Sensemaking and Learning.

Simplicity: From multi-disciplinary agencies to specialized agencies, building the right ecosystem can be overwhelming. If a marketer has multiple agencies, the onus falls on the marketer to coordinate and manage the workflows. Theoretically, all agencies will collaborate, but the process creates challenges in creating and executing integrated strategies. An alternative approach is having a lead agency that is responsible for partnering with specialized agencies (with marketer’s approval) and coordinating schedules, outputs, and results. Think of it as a “one neck to choke” plan.

Speed and Agility:  Every marketer wants more responsiveness, speed, and maneuverability. Customer behavior is evolving, new customer-facing platforms pop up every year, and new ad formats are introduced constantly. The days of agencies having a meeting with marketers, disappearing for a few weeks, and presenting a PowerPoint for approval are long gone. For the best work, marketers and agencies need to sit in the same room (physically or digitally), collaborate, and co-create. Working together in sprints to lay down the foundations of strategies or campaigns enables agility. For day to day communications, reviewing, and approval, email is no longer a viable option. Digital tools like Slack not only provide a record of conversations, but also organize them by projects and workstreams. Mavenlink and Wrike project management platforms become the digital hub and repository for documentation and assets and provide workflows for review and approval.

Transparency and Trust:  With issues of ad fraud and agencies not passing on media discounts to marketers, relationships between marketers and agencies are understandably frayed. Having taken over for other agencies, denmark@home has experienced the lack of reporting from previous digital shops who provide no access to Google AdWords and Facebook ads data. We insist on marketers owning their accounts and data with denmark@home leveraging tools like Facebook Business Manager and Google AdWords Manager Accounts to interface with them. Understanding societal and cultural contexts in which marketers are doing business is important. The use of arbitrage requires ad platforms to display ads at the lowest cost, sometimes putting brand safety at risk. As part of denmark@home’s digital campaigns, we create lists of domains that are excluded from displaying ads.

Sensemaking and Learning: We all know marketing is evolving fast and furious. The marketing echo chamber has a tendency to highlight every new shiny technology and believe that it will solve all business problems. But it is more likely the Red Queen hypothesis (from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass) is true, which states a species has to “run” or evolve in order to stay in the same place. Marketers and agencies have to evolve just to not lose ground. That’s why denmark@home stays on top of technology, to help marketers make smarter decisions. Our team members can write deep learning machine algorithms from scratch, build new blockchains, and create chatbots for Facebook Messenger. Our fundamental understanding of technology (and not just tools) enables us to evaluate changes that are occurring, the impact that they will have on the marketplace and businesses, and position brands to take advantage of new ways of working and operating.