Saturday, December 3, 2011

Phases and Faces of my Agencies

Desi CMOs and their agency ecosystem have a long standing, symbiotic relationship. Not only does talent tend to move back and forth regularly, but in India, CMOs tend to rely on their agencies more than other countries, and this trend is just going to continue based on the IBM CMO Study. Indian CMOs will substantially increase their use of their agency partnerships in a variety of areas, but especially notable is the 230% increase in the use of external partnerships for customer and data analytics over the next 3-5 years, compared to 92% globally. Other areas where CMOs will partner more is sales contact/lead management, direct/relationship marketing and even IT skills.

At IBM, we also have long standing relationships with our agencies - across media, events, digital etc. We spend a significant amount of time briefing them and investing in their understanding of the brand strategy and key messages. But I had an epiphany at a recent CMO Council India Advisory Board Meeting. While we are investing in our relationship with "The Agency", what really matters to me are the people who support the account. One of the CMOs in the meeting actually has built into his agency contracts that he is hiring specific people and if they leave, he has the right to interview their backfills and if he is not satisfied, he can replace the agency. One of the other CMOs made a great point that we need to move beyond agency name dropping and start focusing on the actual agency talent.

I agree and that's why I recently asked my agencies to not talk about their capabilities or send across their credential pitches. Rather I want see the profiles of the people and their skills. I sense the agencies were very receptive to this ask and actually welcome the opportunity to put their best foot forward. I am prepping for those discussions. How would you evaluate the skills at your agency, one employee at a time?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, we do agree to partnering to agencies for direct lead & sales mgmt, since it eases our 'cost-to-customer' approach.
    Rather intriguing set of equations with agency guys, talent transition is usually one way :)