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The multinational consultants
Most marketing companies employ 5-10 agencies representing different marketing specialties in their home market. And even with best in class expert agencies, marketers find it challenging to manage multiple agencies to meet expectations and contribute to business.
In the multinational arena, Marketers are faced with many more complexities: Different languages, cultures, market developments and levels of sophistication, different competitors. And distance is obviously an issue. Whereas local agency partners are fairly and sometimes too easily replaced, the investments in international structures are such that one will probably think twice before changing them.
We believe that when it comes to advising on international agency relationships, consultants should be truly international. SCAN International was therefore built on the unique expertise of specialized consultancies that represent eight cultural backgrounds and share an unparalleled experience in the field of agency relationships, agency selection and compensation. International marketing and communications is very complex work and it is mission critical to balance international vision and local knowledge of markets and agencies.
Before you decide on hiring or firing agencies on your roster, it makes sense to establish which structure fits your business and organization best. And consider the pro's and con's of alternative approaches in relation to what you and your company are good at yourselves. Balance the interests of central management with those of regions and local markets that are supposed to deliver the results. We can help analyze your needs and your options, based on our dedicated experience and expertise in the industry.
Quite a few large companies are not aware of the number of agencies they have working for them internationally. Understandable, since not everything can- or should- be controlled from the center. More often than not, however, that number of agencies can be reduced. By looking closely at your structures, strategy, service needs and mapping out all marketing services companies presently employed. We will answer the question whether they all add value or too many of them merely costs. When you are working with an international roster that has been put in place more than 5 years ago, we are confident that we can help you do better (as our client references will tell you). When considering rationalization, it is essential that regional and local management are involved in the effort in order to ensure buy in. Again, matching central objectives with local effectiveness is key.
Agency search and selection
Changing an agency can be rewarding when you are sure of two things:
In this business, hiring a new partner does not necessarily imply better results. We strongly believe that the client is the dominant partner in the relationship. When looking for a new agency, whether advertising, interactive marketing, design, media, it is useful to have an experienced and independent consultant help take a good look at your company as an agency client. As in other relationships, knowing yourself can be a big plus in making it work. By working with us when planning to select agencies you are ensured of strategic, stimulating, independent input during the briefing stages, a thorough understanding of the process, experience in organizing it, seniority, unique global to local expertise and knowledge of what is available. When your search involves markets where we are not directly represented, we are, through our extensive professional network, best placed to find the best resources to support us in those locations.
Agency contracts and compensation
We believe that business arrangements with agencies should be fair and motivating. Often failure to properly define the work and the probable cost leads to disappointment for both parties. Once the scope of work and the "rules of engagement" are defined, translating that into a contract that suits all markets involved is still not an easy task.
Differences in cost of talent, rates and local business practice may call for different versions. Within our international team we have been involved in the development and review of hundreds of contracts for relationships in a large variety of markets. We are familiar with all compensation practices, and we know what works when. Performance Based Compensation, gaining grounds in a number of markets, being one of the areas of expertise that can help further develop accountability.
Our advice is to address contract and compensation issues early on in the process prior to the appointment of a new agency. When you are looking for an independent assessment of arrangements with present partners, the sooner the better. Lingering financial worries can harm the creative climate necessary to get the best from your agency partners.
Client marketing communications optimalisation
With the pace of business change accelerating constantly, more and more international clients are in need of best practices. Sometimes internal structures, processes or skills need improvement. Or you may need help to manage your agency roster across markets, regionally or locally.
As our consultants in the different markets are in constant conversation with marketing organizations, our benchmarking helps define what works where, what doesn't and how to implement improvements. In fact, as far as we know, SCAN International conducted the first global research with agency leaders for their insights on what clients can do better to gain the maximum benefits from working with their agencies.
Agency assessment and evaluation
Managing creative resources can be just as difficult and frustrating as serving very demanding clients. Both parties are in this together and both should feel the responsibility to make it work and turn out results. Switching agencies is often not the answer to your worries. Chances are that you will encounter similar issues 6 months into a new relationship.
When you feel that your agency has the right talent on board, the challenge is to make that talent come alive for you. When both parties are motivated to get the best out of their relationship, we can help identify the obstacles, resolve outstanding issues and move to the next level. Independently, based on our understanding of what makes clients and agencies tick. And it often does not take much more than an expert opinion.
So, our advice: do not switch agencies too quickly. You will have to invest in a new relationship without any guarantee that you will be better off in the next budget period. In any case we believe that you should evaluate your agencies twice a year and have them evaluate you as well. We can help develop the methodology and are often asked to conduct the evaluation, so that both parties can talk more openly. Some of our proudest work has been saving relationships.