For anyone to hear the words ‘your marketing team is terrible…’ would be pretty devastating. But the reality is, when talking to agencies, we often hear comments about marketing teams that – in the context of how the client / agency relationship is unfolding – are well… less than flattering.
The most common complaints vary from broad capabilities to specific day-to-day challenges and include things like:
They don’t know what they’re doing
They don’t listen
Nobody can make decisions over there
They’re always changing their minds
They don’t know how to brief
It’s always a panic situation
Nobody ever says thank you
They treat us like dirt
To what degree these kinds of comments are accurate, exaggerated or directed at individuals rather than entire teams is something that needs to be explored on a case-by-case basis. But no matter how large, small, accurate or inaccurate these kinds issues may appear to be – they all have the ability to erode otherwise healthy client / agency relationships and need to be addressed.
All marketers should know how their teams are performing – and how they’re influencing their agency relationships. And if you’re not sure or have never done any kind of 360-performance evaluation, now is as good a time as any to get a process started.
If you’ve heard rumblings there are issues between your team and your agency(s) – either through a formalized evaluation process, or chatter from elsewhere in your organization here are some helpful questions to help narrow in on the real issue and prepare a solution:
Is it or isn’t it?
First question to ask is always ‘is this a real issue or is it symptomatic of something else?’ The title example of ‘terrible marketing team?’ is likely untrue and the real issue, individual or cause needs to be rooted out before you can begin to address a perceived problem.
Do the teams understand our objectives?
For detail around this, we’ve written before on the kinds of questions everyone on your team should be able to answer which include your business and marketing objectives and understanding the customer. Defining whether internal and agency teams understand and are aligned around your objectives is a good starting point if there are disagreements around overall direction on the business.
Do we have right the decision or approval processes?
If there are concerns around access to decision makers or there worries around how long things are taking to get completed, it’s worth asking whether your own internal processes are in the way and whether team performance can be improved with a streamlined communication process.
Is your team trained properly?
Everyone understands the marketing business has changed dramatically in the last few years – so it’s worth asking whether your own team is equipped to brief in, manage and assess new communication channels or media solutions as they pertain to your business.
Is your team structured properly?
Similarly, new communication channels and media operations have driven an unprecedented change in how marketing and agency teams are structured. If your team isn’t aligned correctly internally, how can it be a model of efficiency when dealing with agencies?
Is this an individual or team issue?
Whether the concern is a gap in skill-set, behaviour, or process driven, defining whether an individual is creating a team perception issue can help set you on the path to being able to improve your client / agency relationship faster than you might imagine.
Marketing teams are rarely – if ever – terrible in their entirety. Issues around internal alignment, skill-sets, training, internal process, marketing team roles, responsibilities and structures, and / or individuals all play a role in how agencies are able to perform.
So whether you’ve heard rumblings, suspect areas of weakness or just want to build a stronger marketing team environment, start with a few questions to define what could be better.
How can we help turn the fear of ‘terrible’ into ‘better than we ever expected’?
Stephan Argent is a founding partner of LE RICHE ARGENT, Canada’s leading Agency Search and Media Management consultancy. Read more like this on our blog ‘Marketing Unscrewed’. Follow me on Twitter @StephanArgent
Photo: Francoise Gaujour