Digital Marketing Partners – Not Agencies

Digital Marketing Partners – Not Agencies

  • Posted by Alice Morgan
  • On October 4, 2016
  • Comments
  •  3

Outsourced Digital Marketing Partners

Tamara and I have long held the view that digital marketing agencies will need to adapt to the way we all need to work with digital.

I started my career in the hallowed corridors of DDB in London. Before the internet. On my first day, I was shown to my desk and was stunned to see that they were expecting me to work without a computer. If I wanted to send a message to the client at Volkswagen UK, write a creative brief, or just send a message to colleagues, I was expected to write it out in long hand and then take it to the typing pool where – as a relative non-entity – I was never going to get a rapid service. If I wanted to re-phrase something, back it had to go. This was 1994, but it really felt like 1954.

Since those days (by the way, I rectified my situation fairly rapidly and a shiny PC was on my desk within a couple of weeks), agencies have changed a massive amount. Embracing digital has been a necessity for survival and many produce excellent creative work designed for the digital journey.

In our experience working with agencies over the years, Tamara and I have seen it all. And our view is that the relationship between client and agency only works if a true partnership can be forged. This is certainly what we managed to achieve with Ignition, a Leo Burnett agency in Frankfurt, but it took a long time to achieve with many false starts.

It’s All About Trust

Ultimately, it involves building trust. And this is the nub of the problem. Agencies are by definition self-serving. While they achieve their ends – in theory – by producing successful campaigns and strategies for their clients, we have certainly been on the receiving end of work that suits their ends and not ours. Account directors are really accountable to the agency finance director, not to the client, after all. And for a client/agency relationship to work properly, this element of up and cross-selling can be really toxic.

Focus on Customer and Benefit

And here’s another factor. In a recent E-consultancy article, Jim Clarke challenges the view that agencies – in their current form – are not sufficiently agile and nimble. User and customer experience are becoming more relevant as we all try to engage with our audiences across the customer journey. Jim goes on to point out that “brands need people more than people need brands” – a lovely way of putting it, in my view. It points strongly to the tenets of customer focus and making things relevant. It means that rather than forcing brand messaging on an unwilling big audience, “clients are increasingly looking to their agencies to deliver real benefits”, when it matters.

But getting to this point in the journey is not easy for most clients. Both Tamara and I have seen how difficult it can be to find the right people with the right mindset. There are also challenges internally, especially with senior management, who may not be as digitally savvy or who still think in terms of broadcast marketing. Digital managers can really be caught in the middle of it all.

A New Approach to Digital Marketing

This is why we believe a new approach is called for. We’ve set up ALTA Digital because this is precisely the sort of mind-field that we know exists – and which we are experienced in navigating. Digital managers often need support in understanding what the best strategy is, selling it in internally and then executing it. This can’t involve someone else’s business priorities.

Creative Still Needs To Be Great

One last thought. Again, nicely put by Jim Clarke. “One area that will remain unchanged will be the role of agencies in persuading consumers to buy products – which means delivering engaging stories along every touchpoint, driven and enabled by data”. How true.

Talk to us about how ALTA Digital can partner you.


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