During the current Covid-19 crisis, I’ve heard many people, wisely, say that the way companies and individuals behave during these challenging times will define how they are subsequently viewed once we get back to some semblance of normality. In tougher times, the focus gets even greater on ‘doing the right thing’, given the difference between getting it right and getting it wrong could make the difference as to whether a business survives or not. In reality though, the right behaviours in business have always been important if you want to drive the right outcomes, particularly so if you want to be well positioned to drive the greatest value from a client and agency relationship.
Recently, but very definitely pre Covid-19, I attended a particular client’s global marketing conference in the US. The client in question historically goes to the effort of gathering 50 of the marketing leadership team, including key agency contacts, from all corners of the globe into one place every quarter, because he believes in effective communication and a partnership approach. The client in question really gets that their marketing team will only be as successful as the larger team around them and so invests in opportunities to come together to share the vision, share plans and ensure everyone is bought into the end goal. As an agency we are very much a part of that team and, as such, we feel we have skin in the game. They also get the importance of creating a trusted partnership. Bringing the broader team together on a regular basis fosters this sense of togetherness. It encourages collaboration between the different teams within the function which, in turn, creates synergies and enables individuals to work together in a more holistic way. It also motivates and shows appreciation for the members of the team.
As a result, there is no agency/client divide, we are one team and, based on this approach, since working remotely, we haven’t missed a beat in output; put simply, the steps that were taken Pre Covid-19 are now bearing fruit in our ‘new normal’. Now, the next quarterly meet up will undoubtedly be virtual, but prioritising face-to-face communication in this way BC has meant that, PC, a virtual meeting will be equally productive. And they will be equally productive because they will mirror the face to face sessions by focusing on achieving five key goals for the group when it comes together:
- Sharing best practice; what works, and what doesn’t: The sessions together provide valuable information about activity that has taken place and what is planned for the future, but also provide a great deal of insight into the successes and challenges that the teams are facing. Hearing about these challenges first-hand not only helps to better understand our stakeholder’s drivers but also enables us to feel and share the pressures, and work together to resolve them as efficiently as possible
- Better visibility: Understanding what is happening across the function as a whole, and not just within the teams we support, enables us to identify opportunities to provide further support, as well as ideas and approaches for how our key stakeholders could be working better and leveraging the work being done by their counterparts
- Agency synergy: Meeting and hearing from the other agencies our client is working with helps us to identify any areas of crossover or opportunities to work together to provide more holistic support for the client
- C-suite input: Meeting and hearing from the company’s CMO and CEO about their vision for the company both inspires and motivates us to want to achieve something special together. We’re all on the same journey together
- Letting loose (within reason and, currently, within the confines of a video call!): Whilst you do get to know people by working with them day-in day-out, it’s only when you’re out in a social environment that you can really get to know someone as a person and build a better, more trusting relationship
The investment in time, effort and operational expense of bringing teams together regularly to drive the right marketing outcomes is, to my mind, hugely valuable, whatever business environment we may be operating within. But it is only one (albeit very powerful) way to drive ever greater value from client/agency relationships.
To hear about other ways to drive value, I’d strongly urge you to find time to listen to Dr Chris Boorman, (full disclosure; an Agent3 client) who will be delivering a closing keynote presentation at this year’s virtual B2B Marketing Get Stacked event on 23rd April, where he will explore the need to form trusting partnerships as well as the need to communicate effectively.
Having worked with Chris for a number of years, we know that he ‘does the right thing’ consistently; his session at Get Stacked will have a wealth of anecdotes about how he drives best practice within his organisation, whatever the market environment he and his team are operating in.