Sunday, February 06, 2011

Telcos: Getting the best out of your agencies...

I've spent the last 5 years of my life working on telco's. Its been a particular point of interest for me for some time now, i've put down some thoughts and points of views that i've accumulated along the way on how to make get the best out of your agency.
Might or might not prove useful.

Doing the ugly stuff better than they do the pretty stuff.

The measure of a good agency isn’t their capacity to develop big beautiful brand ads rather their capacity to do the other 98% of the work that people get exposed to. Any agency can put together a brand campaign, not any agency can make the more prominent body of work look half decent. Understand that it is not exclusively the role of a brand campaign to build brand values. Every little piece of work is an opportunity to build the brand from office signage to the retail experience across to the bare tariff announcements as Jaime Pabon (planning director at leo) says, see du as a good reference. Stress on the importance of focusing on the little things as much as they do on the larger more traditionally exciting project.

Get your agency to present their big idea through tactical briefs

One of the many reasons why non brand work clearly looks like non brand work is that the organizing idea that should sit across all work has been thought through the lense of a brand campaign. Brand campaigns are the most irresponsible type of advertising agencies create. Most aren’t tasked with carrying any concrete message, neither do they carry the pressure of tightly set objectives and stringent success measures. When your agency are crafting an idea that’s going to sit with you for the next two or three years, get them to think about how it’ll work in the contexts of service umbrella work, promotions, retail etc. If they can prove it works, then you’ve got an idea. If not, what started off as a fancy campaign that’s meant to drive your brand into the future, winds up serving as a headline with little to no purpose beyond sitting awkwardly underneath your logo.

Sticking to the brand guidelines no matter how much the ad agency hates the branding agency.

Your brand guidelines should be scripture irrespective of how many art directors tell you they need creative freedom. What the naïve art director fails to see is that the quantity of work that gets put out paired with the tight timelines makes it literally impossible for any operator to consistently deliver the quantity of messages it does without flaws and inconsistencies. Guidelines, once absorbed and understood, help streamline message development and offer a reliable platform to deliver news quickly without eroding the consistency or integrity of a brand. Take it from an adman; not every piece of work that comes out of the agency needs to have an idea glued to it. Sometimes, the promotion is the idea.

Balancing the innate desire for agency’s to take risk: The experimentation budget

Risk seems to be something that comes in either absolute abundance or absolute absence, nothing in between. What your agency needs to understand is that all of these fantastic virals examples they keep showing you always existed as a subset of a much broader campaign that most likely isn’t in the Cannes reel. Risk should be heavily encouraged within a calculated area. Allocate roughly 3% of every campaign budget for experimental purposes; the social stuff, mobile stuff, the character they want to create, appreciating that this isn’t about results its more about learning. Nine out of ten times the results will be negligible, but a single hit and you’ve got disproportionate results that make up for your total investment, not to mention the invaluable learning’s you’ll pick up.

The obsession with people forwarding and uploading stuff

Media agency’s, advertising agency’s as well as clients get overly enthusiastic about the idea of owned and earned media in the form of fan pages and sites where people upload stuff etc. The assumption is that the work is so mind bogglingly participatory and the product so earth shattering that everyone would want to upload, like, take pictures and throw hoards of attention your way. If the logic alarm goes off in your head when your agency suggest you emails all CEO’s with a special code that grants them access to your amazing microsite which they visit and forward too all their CEO friends, don’t be afraid to voice your concern. Usually a good gauge of something working is simply asking yourself “could I imagine someone doing this?” If you’re still unsure and the agency resilience is clouding things, suggest they show you similar work they’ve produced for other clients. This isn’t about killing creativity, this is about pragmatism.

Get your media agency to understand that not everything should be ‘the talk of the town’

Media have a tendency to want to make news out of everything, and maybe in categories where new news is rare, that’d make sense. However our industry could potentially launch up to 30 new products or promos a year, so optimizing becomes increasingly more important for the sake of clarity and efficiencies. Building prioritization models that incorporate key metrics like: the business importance, the halo effect on the brand, the products breadth of appeal, will help you prioritize and mediate a discussion about what products and services should or shouldn’t be ‘the talk of the town’. Even Skybar doesn’t stop the music and start the fireworks when you pop open a beer bottle.

Set objectives, measure the results, learn, apply, measure.

Setting tangible communication objectives is an essential part of the communication process that often gets left out. Stick your ad agency, pr agency, media agency and research person in the room and set objectives for all your larger campaigns. Ensure they are realistic but more importantly ensure they are measurable. ‘Boosting brand affinity and sales’ is not tangibly measurable. If you’re struggling to start some place, study your previous successfully campaigns and build objectives based on the past. Furthermore, I stress on the importance having that post campaign meeting that never takes place. Once you’ve run the campaigns, make sure you have those meetings post campaign with all your agency partners to evaluate what you did well and what can be improved, incorporate those learning’s into the next campaign. Post campaign meetings are probably as important as the pre campaign briefings.


Anonymous alex said...

nice piece nic

6:18 PM  
Anonymous addyjohnson said...

Very nice...

1:47 PM  

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