Going into our fourth year of the Agency | Marketer Partnership Awards, and having reviewed a diverse range of global, regional and local market relationships, across integrated, creative, media, digital and PR disciplines, what have we learned?
At a macro level, we observe that the most successful marketer/agency relationships in Asia Pacific start with a focus on partnership. This focus enables improved creativity and quality of thinking and clearly results in greater effectiveness, for both the marketers and their agency partners.
At a more granular level, the partners display specific individual traits. The most successful marketers:
- take calculated risks
- buy great work, even if it makes them uncomfortable
- embrace their agencies as business partners
- play fair, but firm
- commit to the partnership
- both push and encourage their agencies, and
- respect their agencies as people, not just businesses.
The most successful agencies:
- think at a business, not just a brand level
- display a comprehensive business knowledge and a deep brand commitment
- are digitally passionate
- think differently
- encourage client collaboration and input
- act as brand steward, not just agency partner
- take genuine brand ownership.
Together, the marketers and agencies focus on partnership principles, which include empowerment, transparency/honesty, joint ownership, accountability, process efficiency, shared goals, appreciation, seamlessness, mutual growth and a learning culture.
How these individual traits and partnership principles are applied, varies from one relationship to another, but we observe a clear link between their application and levels of mutual success.
Finally, we have also observed a drive to innovate within the working environment, examples include:
- agencies adopting a business consultancy role
- building a combined ‘team’ culture
- joint ownership for improving marketing processes and project management
- re-inventing the traditional briefing and idea development stages
- active real-time focus on performance improvement not just measurement
- embedding digital thinking, skills and tools at the heart of the relationship
- emphasis on clear communications between all parties.
So as we go into the fourth year of the Agency|Marketer Partnership Awards, by shining a light on the most successful client/agency partnerships, we are starting to observe and codify how success is built.
There are sound learnings here, which the whole industry can benefit from, not least of which is that a stronger focus on the partnership between the marketer and their agencies, does have a dramatic impact on the quality and performance of their combined outputs.
We look forward to reviewing more outstanding Asia Pacific agency-marketer partnerships in the coming months.