Do marketing agencies’ mantras or stories mean anything for clients?

Author: Matt Richards

Category: Blog Posts

It’s a big claim. But I am going to make it. Most marketing agencies’ methodologies or mantras are either banal or bankrupt. They have no genuine meaning. There it is. The cat’s out of the bag.

It may sound harsh, but even when we look at some of the top agencies their sound bites on strategic approach quickly wear thin.

Mediacom are without doubt a strong media buying agency. But hear them talk about their “Real World Communications” methodology based on “deep understanding of the consumer” and you may just wince. Please forgive me for a second, but really! Would anyone ever suggest anything different? What self-respecting marketer would buy a campaign based in an “unreal world” with a flagrant disregard for consumer understanding?

AKQA seem a step ahead here, and talk elegantly about “smart and skilful storytelling through software” and this at first glance looks clever, but is it really that differentiating? For instance, who now would really consider bombarding the consumer with just a bundle of facts, in a range of traditional channels, with no story or emotion? Perhaps I’m being facetious?

Given the above examples, one is left wondering whether a purely pragmatic approach is best? And here Zenith Optimedia excel. When it was launched a number of years back the simplicity of “the return on investment agency” positioning had real traction. It struck to the heart of things. It was to the point. A breath of fresh air.

Zenith’s challenge is this has now become a given in the sector. Even the re-incarnation to “ROI – live”, which re-invents the positioning in today’s world seems like a hygiene factor. Every client and every agency needs live ROI.

And it’s here I’m forced to stop and reflect. Why have transparently good (and in their sphere even great agencies) not got their mantra or strategic approach nailed?

Firstly, and to be fair, I don’t think it is an easy challenge. Boiling down the complexity of an agency group, in a mature market, which operates across multiple disciplines and countries in to a single meaningful approach that isn’t just a lowest common denominator, is hard.

Where, however, I think a trick is being missed is in not directly connecting an agency’s strategic approach with its vision. By this I mean connecting an agency’s approach (or how it does stuff) with the agency’s “purpose”.

This remains challenging where an agency’s purpose is pure revenue generation, but is much easier when an agency has a vision and actually stands for something.

It wouldn’t be fair of me to walk away without revealing our own agency’s hand on this. After all, anyone can cast stones.

Our vision at TMP Magnet is to “Transform communications – for the better”. It’s a vision which we collectively believe in, and revere enough to commit the foreseeable future of our working lives too.

The vision is simple. For consumers our vision’s promise is to create communications which are more open, more helpful and more honest. Ultimately enabling them to learn about, purchase and advocate the products which are right for their needs.

For our clients our vision’s promise is to transform their media and communications solutions making them more effective by virtue of their impact, clarity and ability to engage their audiences in authentic dialogue.

Connecting our vision with all the work we do is our strategic approach. The “how we do it”.

Our approach we call “Purchase Acceleration”. Your question then may be what do we mean by Purchase Acceleration? Is this just more agency jargon?

Well, in simple terms we mean that the communications campaigns we build for our clients are designed to accelerate customers to purchase. Designed, in short, to make purchase happen more quickly and more frequently.

It would be fair for you to next ask – how does Purchase Acceleration actually do this?

Well it’s in effect a four part process – which I will summarise below, and then again in more detail in my next blog. The first three parts of Purchase Acceleration most good, full service, multi-channel agencies may claim, but when synthesised with the final element, I believe makes for something truly unique.

Stage 1 of Purchase Acceleration is consumer research into deep, motivating human needs which can inspire action. This is the founding block of everything. A “must have.”

Stage 2 of Purchase Acceleration focuses on the creative magic to transform these insights into dramatic human stories which inspire consumer action. The differentiator here is the commitment to stories which are truly big. Big and inspiring enough to actually drive tangible action.

Stage 3 is about agile integration of media and communications channels. Brands need to be omnipresent, relevant and flexible. All elements of the campaign must work seamlessly together, and should reflect the agile consumer’s ability to bounce in, out or around the purchase funnel as they desire.

The final stage of Purchase Acceleration involves what we call Purchase Catalysts. Purchase Catalysts are those things that accelerate or catapult consumers from one phase of the customer journey to the next. We’ve learnt Purchase Catalysts come in four shapes and sizes: Big, Simple, Specific and Inventive.

Big Purchase Catalysts

These are the key strategic mantras and approaches which should be present across all campaigns – they are the big blocks which it is crucial to get right first. Examples are: being rooted in customer’s own world, integrated, real–time, and dialogue based.

Simple Purchase Catalysts

These are all about streamlining and simplifying the customer journey – it involves the removal of any practical barriers or obstacles to purchase. Diligence and systemisation here is key.

Specific Purchase Catalysts

These are both specific tactical and strategic enhancements of the relevant media channels, and tailoring of any promotional messaging.

Inventive Purchase Catalysts

These are genuine marketing and communication innovations which create new consumer needs or new uses of media, the impact from which turbo charges consumers’ conversion to purchase.

So there you have it. Purchase Acceleration drives more happy customers through a combination of (a) great human stories, founded on deep insights into human needs, (b) communicated with agility across multiple communications touch points, and (c) catapulting consumers forward in their purchase journey with a range of dynamic Purchase Catalysts.

So it may be multi-faceted but we believe we have created a reason to act with our vision (Transforming communications – for the better), and a plan for action with Purchase Acceleration.

With me still? Well in my next blog post we’ll cover more detail on Purchase Acceleration to help deepen your understanding.

In the meantime, if you just can’t wait till then and want to debate any of the above or want some tangible help just reach out.


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