Now more than ever, agencies need to start addressing clients’ business problems, not just creative briefs.
Traditional agencies are set up to market to consumers — plain and simple. They always have. But as any CMO or seasoned Marketer would know, some business challenges go far beyond what can be addressed by a marketing campaign. And so our briefs, and ultimately our strategies, need to evolve.
Asking your agency to nail a creative brief is a given. Asking your agency to solve actual business problems will prove more challenging. The truth of the matter is most traditional above-the-line agencies haven’t a clue how to solve challenges that encompass departments within their client’s businesses beyond the marketing team.
Business challenges affect a range of audiences — from internal stakeholders to B2B audiences and even shareholders. Think team culture, staff engagement, brand values, customer experience and building advocacy for talent acquisition. These are problems that face wider teams within an organisation, but often fall under brand or marketing, because there’s nowhere else to put it. Or fund it.
As if the job of CMO wasn’t already complex enough! You can’t blame them for putting it into the ‘too hard’ basket or falling back on traditional agencies as a default. But in a lot of cases, traditional agencies don’t have the experience or expertise to work with these types of audiences because they’ve never done so. The reality is that audiences beyond the consumer have a very different involvement or investment in the business than a consumer does. So, obviously, they need to be treated differently.
The Automotive Business Challenge
Take the example of a business challenge the automotive industry is currently facing: the decline in walk-ins to dealerships. From the outset, it’s something that appears to be a marketing problem — the marketing channels aren’t working hard enough to drive people into the dealership. But when you look into the issue further, there are far more complex problems at play.
The overall experience is intimidating and often cold, and the communication is sporadic. Most dealers market multiple automotive brands and they often run each franchise exactly the same. The brand proposition becomes diluted across these different brands as the customer experience is treated identically — whether they’re selling a Nissan, a Renault, a Ford or a Mazda.
Again, at face value, this looks like it could be a marketing challenge. But in order to truly solve this issue for one of those automotive brands, you need to look further upstream. A strong brand—and the engagement in it—is a business-wide responsibility. You are only as strong as your weakest link, so if the whole organisation isn’t engaged and living the brand, then the marketing team is throwing good money down the drain. Business-wide brand engagement, and ensuring every business encounter is a rewarding brand experience, will turbo charge the marketing spend.
When it comes to challenges of this nature, whether it’s the Agency or the CMO, it requires someone to be humble and say:
“We could try and stick with marketing, but until the business problem is fixed, the marketing won’t be effective.”
Nissan Motor Co. came to us with just that. A business problem that needed to be solved with something beyond a typical marketing campaign. And so, Nissan Brand Week was born — an educational and engaging week-long event for all staff, from finance and sales, to customer service and training, to ensure the people on the ground are living and breathing its values and DNA each time a customer interacts with the brand.
It’s safe to say that Marketing can target communications and capture an audience, and a traditional agency can do some fancy photoshopping and secure a good media placement. But until they’re empowered to work throughout their client’s organisations, all they will ever be equipped to do is solve briefs instead of business challenges.
Consistent, engaging, business-wide brand experiences will allow you to work through any disruption. So let us solve business challenges through the lens of brand experience to see exponential growth in your marketing ROI.
By Nikita Blom
Posted October 10, 2019
Nik is our Client Services Director. She knows how to manage major campaigns, and deliver positive brand experiences and memorable connections for consumers.