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Navigating out of a perfect storm

Stuart Pocock - Observatory International Stuart Pocock Co-Founder & Network Operations March 30, 2022

Recovery from the COVID pandemic. Exponential growth of digital. Lack of digital transformation capabilities. Talent drain. Inflation. Lack of agency capacity.

Add in a horrific war in Europe the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1945 and you get the scale of the challenge for marketers and marketing organisations. What we are seeing is a perfect storm and no business will be unaffected.

Anyone of these elements in isolation has to be a major challenge for marketers . In combination they provide the industry with a perfect storm of mammoth proportions.

Marketers have always been under extraordinary degrees of work pressure, but this toxic cocktail of issues can only make their work life balance rock even further out of kilter.

Equally their procurement counterparts are also struggling, wrestling with costs and the need to deliver even more for even less – to the point where agency appetites to continue to engage with them is reaching breaking point .

Pause, take stock, and reset

We must appreciate that the events of the last two years, and particularly of the last few weeks has changed the rules.

If we’re going to succeed in the future, then we really need to look at the way in which we are thinking about marketing, its costs, and how we work with those with the capabilities to move our brands forward.

There is no point in Procurement hiding behind the ‘value’ argument when the reality is that such an approach is a metaphor for simply driving costs down.

There is no excuse for the perennial issue of poor briefing from marketers resulting in wasted time, wasted costs, and frustration on all sides (plus not a small impact sustainability).

And agencies simply need to look more closely at the cost/benefits of working with clients on ridiculously tight margins and perhaps make difficult calls.

With all of the issues facing the industry from both a business and agency perspective we really do need some focus and that focus needs to be multi dimensional.

Working better together

We need to work better together. We need to make sure that our people are better prepared when they engage with their counterparts – both client and agency side. Clarity of brief together with appropriate senior sign-off across the chain of command would be a good place to start.

Having a model specifically devised for your business, with efficiencies and improved ways of working, is essential to ensure your agencies are in a position deliver the maximum quality and quantity of work at an appropriate cost.

Ensuring a financial framework designed to remunerate your agency appropriately and which enables greater investment in the talent you need to get ahead of your competitors, geared around a collaborative working relationship, will do much to bolster the positivity towards you as a company from those working at the agency.

And whilst we are all impossibly time pressured, spending time to build relationships and understanding of each others hopes, needs and desires has never been more important.

Success factors

It goes without saying that to navigate your way out of a perfect storm means you need the right skill sets, focus, foresight and will. You also need a mighty strong vessel and the best possible muliti-talented crew working in unison.

Few organisations have all these attibutes and are  simply banking on being able to do the best they can with what, in honesty, is a slightly leaky boat.

Navigating a passage of improvement, and getting every element of that vessel in peak working order has to be the priority.

Otherwise you may find it’s simply a matter of all hands to the pump, donning life-jackets and hoping for the best as your competitors sail into the sunset.

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