The Independent Agency Search and Selection company (IAS) recently held one of its series of master classes. Marketers from some of the biggest companies in South Africa were present to discuss with delegates what they expected from agencies this year.
They included Belinda Godfrey from The Spitz Group; Brehndan Botha from Brandhouse/Diageo; Mohammed Ismail from Standard Bank and Miantha Padayachee of Clover Industries. There to learn from the masters were 18 people representing about 10 different agencies.
I have distilled the main points made and taken during the class.
So what are marketers looking out for in 2016 – a year of challenge and uncertainty.
- Flexibility in contract and pricing
- Less focus on resource plans, more focus on outputs and outcomes
- Help from their agencies in terms of helping the marketers retain their own customer base
- A real understanding of the consumer and all of the messages that they receive
- An understanding by their agencies of the impact that a price hike has on consumers and the resultant effect on the marketer’s business
They also want a proactive approach from agencies towards budget cuts, which are inevitable in a tough economic climate, and an understanding of the business and its pressure points. Equally important is an understanding of the competitive environment and its possible impact on the marketer’s business.
And vital to the relationship is transparency in costs. Focused media spend designed to deliver return on investment – this is a very important point – if budgets are cut, media spend has to be even more closely targeted.
So for a marketer, what is real ROI? How does this get recorded in the Boardroom or C-Suite?
- An improvement on previous year’s performance
- Growth above the economic growth for that year
- Effective use of a reduced budget year on year
- An understanding of zero based budgeting – or starting over
- Agility and willingness to course correct during a campaign in order to derive better ROI
Is Africa an option for marketers? Do they see real growth and opportunities? How is this measured?
There is lots of opportunity, but it’s important to use local in-country agencies in conjunction with others so that local insights and flair can be fully utilised. And it’s very important for the marketer to understand how important their brands are in the different markets.
Is marketing taken seriously at board level? And especially during tough times when costs are an issue for the business?
- Without question, marketing is part of the decision making processes in any business
- This means that the marketer – especially at senior level – is often called on to be part of these discussions
- This means that the CMO will have far less time for agency management issues and will be delegating most – if not all – of this to the marketing team.
- Agencies need to understand that the more seriously marketing is taken in a company, the better the understanding of the agency’s role will be, but the more the agency will have to adopt a proactive approach.
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