Decreasing ad spend, budget cuts and restructures are unfortunately now commonplace and top of the agenda for advertisers and agencies. Whilst brands continue to look for opportunities to reduce costs, they are also expecting their agency partners to demonstrate better value in the services they provide.
In agency appraisals recently conducted by Flock we have clearly seen clients growing expectations for added value to be delivered in the following areas:
- Rapid innovation – intensive hacking sessions to get to new, original ideas fast, bypassing long and costly processes
- Access to specialist resources – not being restricted by staff plans, proactively leveraging the wider network or agency expertise, providing strategic advice to improve outputs
- Alternative budget solutions – actively suggesting low cost alternatives that will drive engagement rather than continuously proposing high budget, TV led solutions
- Centres of excellence – putting in place quarterly or bi-annual trends briefings to share best practices, learnings from other clients and innovation ideas
- Agile processes and flexible commercial models – reviewing ways of working to make budgets go further with leaner, specialised teams
- Coaching – whether its new techniques or better briefing, providing additional training to clients delivers clear benefits to both clients and agencies through an upskilled team
The above is not a finite list; however, these are the most common areas we repeatedly find clients asking their agencies for.
Ultimately, clients want their agencies to produce great work in the most efficient way possible whilst not sacrificing quality. We all know that we need to work differently, but how can you get there and fast, avoiding lengthy, drawn out conversations on what you can be doing differently?
“The 360-degree agency appraisal helped us to identify areas in our relationship where we could focus our efforts on more important issues. It freed us up to work quicker and more effectively resulting in the work being better.”
At Flock we advocate that both the client and the agency need to work together to develop an action plan with clear deliverables for both teams to get to a better way of working. Whilst clients are expecting better value, agencies can only do this if their clients deliver good work too. It must be a collaborative effort.
As an initial step, Flock recommend holding a structured working session to conduct a formal review of the following areas:
- Current ways of working and team structure: what is working and the opportunity areas
- The additional value the client team are expecting from the agency
- Agreement on priority items for the next 6 months and criteria for achieving these
- Agency requirements from the client to achieve these e.g. better briefing, clearer feedback, provision of innovation budget
- Review of agency KPIs / bonus structure, align with value added criteria
- Agree monthly reporting structure to track value add activities
Once the above items are agreed it will be crucial that value adding activities are prioritised and not forgotten alongside ‘business as usual’. Regular monitoring of action plans will allow for continued transparency on progress of initiatives and help to determine any aspects that might need to be reviewed or changed. As we continue to see such volatility globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans will need to be continuously reviewed and adapted at speed alongside changing client priorities.
If you would like any further advice on how you can put in a clear plan to get better value from your agency, please contact Flock for more information on our agency get fit programmes and agency appraisal tool.