Moving from crisis to success: Post COVID-19 Agency Management Principles


Katie Elsey

The marketing industry has spent the last three months flexing and adapting to a completely different way of working. It’s been a roller coaster ride for us all, as we have been tirelessly adjusting to what we now call “the new normal”.

Financial turmoil has led to huge budget cuts and the reworking of all the best laid plans marketers had in place for 2020. As we now start to slowly move out of lock down, many will be looking to the future and thinking how they can continue to find new ways to work differently but effectively.

In particular, brands and agencies have been engaging in challenging conversations over the last 12 weeks – how can clients and agencies work together to deliver better value with less budget?

Flock believe there are four core ingredients of a successful client/agency relationship – People, Operations, Output and Measurement. We assess these areas in agency appraisals, reviewing both client and agency performance to determine opportunities to improve and optimise ways of working and output.

The traditional challenges and opportunities in these four key areas are applicable to both the pre and post COVID-19 world, however now marketers are faced with new questions that need addressing. We recommend that when you are looking at your action plan for moving forward you consider the following:

1 People

Does the agency/client have sufficient staff with the right capabilities, competencies, experience, and seniority to work with your team?

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has resulted in organisational restructures, extended furlough periods and redundancies. Leaner teams must do more with less resource and so it is crucial that both agency and client teams have the right knowledge and skills to deliver value to their brand.

On average, over 50% of clients surveyed in the first wave of an agency appraisal are not satisfied with the skills and capabilities they receive from their agency. Flock particularly find that agency teams often lack the agreed levels of seniority involvement. This can lead to lower quality of output and overall, less efficiencies as more junior team members sometimes lack the experience and strategic skills that will drive your business forward.

2 Operations

Does the agency/client look at new and efficient ways of delivering work collaboratively?

We all know we are working differently but this needs to extend beyond working from home. Processes and ways of working need to become more agile with agencies considering alternative ways to structure their teams to tackle briefs with smaller budgets and tighter timelines.

In a recent agency appraisal conducted by Flock, the agency fees had been cut by 30%, however the agency ways of working had not changed, causing understandable tension with the client. Flock helped the agency and client to write an action plan to fix this in the next 30 days.

3 Output

Does the agency/client stay on top of latest communication channels and innovations, recommending those that will benefit the brand in a post COVID world?

Customer journeys have continued to evolve throughout COVID-19. With continued uncertainty for the economy and high street, delivering authentic experiences to customers in their homes to build brand loyalty is key. Refocusing efforts to a digital environment, ensuring decision making and comms are fuelled by data and analytics will save money and build customer engagement.

Data at the heart is a common promise made by agencies during pitches. However, often when this is examined as part of a detailed appraisal, Flock find some common challenges that are stopping client/agency teams from meeting expectations. Clients want their agencies to proactively provide customer and business insights, demonstrating how data is fuelling decision making. However, frequently there is a lack of skill within client teams to distil data into valuable insights, often leading to overwhelmed agency teams who are provided with huge data dumps. To fix this, Flock recommend putting in place focused action plans that provide teams with the right tools and templates to ensure clarity is achieved on what good looks like and the roadmap to get there, ensuring a consistent approach to how data is used across teams.

4 Measurement

Does the agency proactively review and upgrade their approach to measurement, whilst focusing on continuous improvement?

As brands and agencies change their approach to outputs, metrics will need to be reviewed and adjusted accordingly. Agencies need to proactively suggest innovative ways to measure the success and effectiveness of projects. Additionally, opportunities must not be missed to take forward learnings to achieve efficiencies and build relationships with customers, delivering better return on investment to their clients.

On average, 70% of agency scores for Measurement are below expectations in their first wave of appraisal, the lowest score of all our categories. When marketing budgets are so tight, it is essential that the agency has the best resources and processes to optimise ROI.

No one could have predicted the complete overhaul COVID-19 would have on everything we do. What is vital is that we work smarter and better together. The key questions outlined above are some of the key topics Flock advocate reviewing as part of an Agency Appraisal. Never before has it been so vital to deliver better return on investment and with great clients receiving on average 36% better media and creative outputs, the benefit of putting in place a 360, transparent evaluation system is clear.

To find out further information on how regular appraisals can deliver better value to your brand simply contact us and we would be delighted to take you through a demo of the tool and to answer any questions.

Alternatively please feel free to fill in the form below and gain access to an online demo of both the tool and the reporting dashboard.