Every marketing agency likes a challenge – but not if that challenge happens to be the client relationship.
This is a problem in B2B financial services, I find, more so than with other sectors. Not all marketers have the experience to get their heads fully wrapped around complicated financial products, laws and regulations – and not all clients are great at explaining them. Long sales cycles, meanwhile, place creative assets under close scrutiny, whilst account-based marketing tests the ability of the agency to continually reform creative concepts for different targets.
All this considered, there are a few pointers which every financial services client ought to follow in order to get the most out of their agency.
Lay the Foundations
Many clients think a simple phone call or short briefing document is enough to inspire great thinking and work. It’s not.
The truth is that agencies like to do their homework before they get started. If you make sure they fully understand the specifics of your product, your industry, your targets and your sales process, you’ll be more likely to receive the thoughtful and considered strategic insights that will be key to success.
Consider inviting your agency to interview your sales and management teams, or to sit in on internal marketing discussions. This will help them to achieve an acute understanding of how the product or service will be sold in the field.
I recognize that this is a larger investment in time for the client, but it’s one that will pay dividends down the road.
At OLIVER, we know a thing or two about the value to clients of having agency talent work alongside them – it’s fundamental to our approach.
But you don’t need to wait for your agency to adopt the inside model to bring them into your world. Why not ask them to spend time in your space, even if it’s just a couple of days a week? Having your agency staff immersed in your operation, experiencing first-hand what it’s like to be part of your business, will make the difference to their understanding of your offering, and so, the quality of their output.
Nobody enjoys double-digit rounds of reviews; but in the financial sector, this happens all too often as the normal creative sign-off process becomes complicated further by compliance issues.
The best approach here is to get all internal and external stakeholders – legal and compliance teams, creative and campaign personnel – around a table before the project kicks off.
This will ensure everyone is clear on what has to be included and what to avoid, and also foster better communication, with everyone knowing who to turn to with questions and suggestions as the project evolves.
And once things are up and running, provide your agency with comprehensive, constructive and honest feedback. The more they know about what you need, the better they’ll perform.
Brands often juggle multiple agencies these days: social, CRM, brand, digital, media, etc., in addition to their internal marketing teams.
But there’s no reason why these people shouldn’t meet face-to-face. I’d recommend getting everyone together a couple of times a year to talk and share insights, problems, solutions and ideas.
As well as helping produce omnichannel marketing with unified messaging and strategy, it will foster proper communication between all your stakeholders and lead towards a more productive way of working.
Shake it Up
Any campaign can get stale over time – and it’s worth anticipating this, rather than waiting for metrics to show it’s no longer resonating with consumers.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to bring in an extra pair of creative eyes to the table and see if your existing campaign can be refreshed. This doesn’t necessarily mean an outright agency switch; just shake things up a bit. You can either delve deeper into your existing agency, or task a third party with evolving or adjusting the strategy without damaging any equity that your existing campaign has already built up.
Taking the Reins
These are just a few tips I’ve picked up through a career in supporting agencies in their relationships with financial services clients.
If there’s one unifying theme, it’s that financial services brands and marketing agencies alike stand to gain from a better relationship: closer, more communicative and more long-term than is commonplace with traditional agencies, or even than may be necessary for other sectors.
Ultimately, the onus is on you as the client to make sure this happens. It’s your brand that stands to benefit and your marketing budget on the line
Your marketing agency is there to make it happen. It’s down to you to take the reins.
About Bill Moclair
Bill works as Group Account Director for OLIVER USA.
A passionate marketer with over 20 years’ experience, he’s worked both sides of the client-agency table, gaining a unique insight the marketing process.
Previous to joining OLIVER, he spent nine years as Financial Services Practice Head for Gate Worldwide, leading growth for accounts such as State Street Global Advisers, NASDAQ, AllianceBernstein and more.