In the age of the connected consumer, is the marketing and agency model optimally configured to grow brands? Can the marketing/agency partnership deliver the customer experience needed to win, serve and retain customers?
The marketing and agency partnership can, and in our opinion must lead in providing not just brand advertising, but a branded customer experience that delights consumers at every touch point. In other words, an aligned marketing and agency partnership can lead and must lead, a brand’s customer experience transformation. Taking up this challenge is not easy, but is necessary for agencies to remain relevant to clients.
The required marketing/agency change is driven by the rise of the connected consumer who is “always on” and engaging across channels.
“People are always shopping, even when they are not in your shop”
– Tomas Gonsorcik Integrated Lead Strategy at VML New York.
A productive way to make sense of this new consumer behaviour is to consider the connected customer in the context of a brand journey, showing the flow of interaction a customer typically takes across multiple channels. This journey construct provides a holistic view of consumer engagement.
“It is not easy to reach connected consumers on mass anymore, and therefore we need to understand journeys so that we can make the best choices in how we reach those consumers,” says Brian Yamada, Innovation lead from VML Kansas City.
“Fragmentation of attention, devices, where and how consumers are purchasing demands the creation of a more integrated picture of the consumer journey.”
Agencies will need to change to add value in this new world of journey centric brand experiences. The change will not be easy but does represent a profound opportunity for those agency partners that get it right.
1From channel expertise silos to integrated customer journey strategy
Modern agencies need to understand and care about the consumer journey. Understanding how your consumer interacts with your brand at every touch point is vital.
“Agencies need to understand what the journey’s look like now, where the breakpoints and weak links are in the journey and how improvements in these areas can affect brand experience and marketing return” adds Gonsorcik. “This is difficult to do if agency teams are not integrated.”
2From campaign effectiveness to business outcomes
Because campaign effectiveness measures can be distrusted and undervalued, focusing on desired business outcomes becomes more important. This goal remains as elusive as it is fundamental.
3From data fragments to integrated insight
It is essential to link media, customer engagement and sales data to show effectiveness and the opportunity to increase effectiveness. This means consolidating multiple data sources to answer well-articulated questions.
But clients need to change too. Continuously firing agencies will only get you so far. Brands need to transform their structures to allow journey centric thinking to take hold and flourish.
4Client silos beget agency silos
Agency partnerships are structured and staffed to reflect client structures. Clients must aspire to become the change they want to see. However, agencies that understand how to implement brand journey thinking at scale can help client’s transition without attempting to upset the entire organisation structure.
“We build bridges, common language and process across teams that have not had to deeply engage outside of branded journey thinking,” says Gonsorcik. Brigitte Majewski of Forrester highlighted how Electrolux has created a “360 Customer Experience Group accountable for all pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase customer touchpoints.”
5Short-term assignment becomes a longer-term partnership
Focusing on a business outcome enables thinking beyond a single campaign to a world of continuous engagement and iterative and agile improvement. The desired outcome, when well-articulated, can align and galvanise a partnership.
6Disparate measurement to clear mandate
There are too many metrics and they are growing by the day. Clarity regarding measurement metrics and ownership of measurement will become the bedrock of an objectively measured and productive relationship.
Ultimately, delighting a customer at every touch point will do far more for a brands growth and longevity than any advertising could do. The marketing and agency partnership, just like the consumers we aim to serve, is on a transformative journey of its own. And if, like we aspire to do for our consumers, we can create a delightful and rewarding partnership between agency and client, we will have the foundation needed to deliver on the delight that our consumers deserve at every step of the journey.