Let the creative juices flow

In response to the views from senior marketers on what makes for a happy marriage between agency and client (MWlinks.co.uk/agencyCMOStrategy), I would like to offer an agency perspective on the same topic. Here are five points to consider.

Embrace failure. How prepared are you to encourage your agency to take risks? Great marketers are prepared to fail sometimes because innovation, by its very nature, is trying something that has never been tried before. This is as vital in your marketing as product design because you don’t get extraordinary results from ordinary strategies.

No-one likes to make a mistake but creative people must have room to manoeuvre. We need to feel we can take a risk without losing the account. Please allow your agency to fail every once in a while because I promise you the ideas they bring you will be bigger and bolder.

The brief is an inspiration, not a rule book. The best way to build a partnership with your agency is to get it involved sooner in the process. While you have to be clear about what you want, ‘the brief’ is not an end in itself.

You don’t run the brief, you run the work – and what it does for you out there in the real world is the only thing that matters. Sometimes a great idea strays from the original brief, but is a much bigger idea than the initial strategy. Be courageous enough to recognise that and let magic happen.

Learn to be stupid. If you assume you know all the answers, then you’re not just stupid, you’re dead.

The only rule is there are no rules. Forget everything you’ve learned about methodologies, proprietary strategic tools, insight-mining workshops and all the rest of it. These things are only useful for developing campaigns that are like everyone else’s.

Great marketers and great agencies break the rules. They never adhere to the status quo. They innovate with products and with strategies. The real power comes when you break with established belief systems and treat your category in a fresh manner. Boring, undifferentiated advertising that looks like that of your competitors is the last thing that you need. So don’t ask or allow your agency to do it.

The fewer the decision-makers the better. A general guideline is that the more people in your organisation who need to input into creative development and approval, the worse the work will become and the more likely your agency team will be to give up striving for greatness and instead just focus on getting off your account.

Think big. Agencies are populated by hungry, hard-working, ambitious dreamers. Recognise this and set the creative bar as high as you possibly can. Inspire us, challenge us and encourage us to do the best work of our lives. Show that you believe in the power of insight and creativity to drive your business. Champion excellence and innovation, and we will move mountains and neglect our beloved children for your sake. Dream big and together, you and your agency might just change the world.

Neil Christie, managing director, Wieden + Kennedy

Balance brand positioning with promotional activity

The debate around coupons that led Morrisons to focus on targeted offers (MWlinks.co.uk/Morrisons) only exists because of their continuing and growing popularity among consumers.

Spending coupons and vouchers is now firmly embedded in the consumer mindset and their shopping behaviour is predominantly driven by this.

The challenge for brands to balance their promotional activity to take into account the current high level of uptake among consumers and think creatively about how they are incorporated into brand positioning.

Penny Dryden, commercial director, Valassis

CIMOs bridge gap between IT and marketing

The changing role of the CMO (MWlinks.co.uk/DataCMOStrategy) is not an overnight phenomenon caused by the emergence of big data, rather it’s an evolution of the role that has been taking place over the last 15-20 years.

Organisations need a chief information marketing officer because data now drives all decisions and the ability of CMOs to manage this information is critical to business success.

An additional responsibility of the CIMO is bridging the gap between marketing and IT – raising the level of technical understanding of their marketing teams and fostering closer, more productive working relationships with IT so that together the organisation can capitalise on the opportunities of real-time, personalised interactions.

Volker Wiewer, Chief Executive Officer, eCircle

Engagement must follow aquisition

Relying on acquisition alone is a poor strategy and a potentially wasted investment.

Instead, organisations that can combine acquisition with effective online optimisation throughout their digital channels can reap significant return on investment and build the long-term customer engagement that should be the objective of every customer acquisition strategy.

Wayne Morris, UK general manager, Maxymiser

Simplicity is best policy

Your article about consumers buying into the simple ways of purchasing (MWlinks.co.uk/Simple) highlights a key trend for brands that is rapidly moving up the boardroom agenda.

Simplicity is an increasingly hot topic because when things are beautifully simple they are more powerful; they get into our heads faster and stay there for longer.

When properly applied, simplicity helps us make choices, saves time and money and minimises debate.

Mastering complexity is the new brand challenge and the brands that get it right win passion from their employees, loyalty from their customers and gain insights into their business that set the foundations for the future.

Philip Davies, president EMEA Siegel+Gale

On road to digital simplicity

Your report into consumers wanting simpler channels to purchase products is why we’re seeing a growing number of applications that cut down on the digital noise of high-volume data to show the user only enough information to focus on a task.

Calm technology is also leading the growing popularity of curation because sites such as Lyst – the Pinterest for shopping – offer a more focused stream of content than standard social networks.

Peter Veash, managing director, The BIO Agency

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