Professional “YES” Men (I) – By Femi Osobajo Jnr
Growing up, advertising had always been the love of my life – the dress sense, spring in their steps, intelligently deciphering brands, you would almost never expect the astuteness in brand communication spewing out the mouth of these sets of “misfits” or “nonconformists” as they are fondly regarded. Finding a crew padding business transforming ideas, blending strong cocktail of insight, strategy and persuading unsuspecting consumers to desire a product or a service through their creations – this lifestyle and career excited me.
In recent times, a glance at the current communications landscape suggests a stiffness in the world of Nigerian advertising – a vast mismatch between what clients’ expectations are versus what is served by agencies. This in-evidently breeds distrust, and the questioning of creative competence.
Yet clients’ problems are much sophisticated than this, as problems are increasingly focused on what new technology and evolving consumer behaviors mean to their businesses. Automobile companies are worried about what electric cars and apps like Uber could mean for the long-term business of car ownership. Supermarket chains are sucked into offering delivery of groceries despite history showing that profits are elusive. Over-the-top message companies like Whatsapp are undermining mobile operators’ ability to make money from texts, but also reducing their role to dumb data pipes. Retailers face threats from online shopping and showrooming, and media owners face disappearing revenues as attention moves online. It’s no wonder todays client demand more than creative designs but almost always catechize marketing solutions presented by the agency.
Most ad agencies in Nigeria have avoided the analytics business, Instead, they’re interested in creativity and enamored with winning awards. Agencies continue to cling to the notion that clients want creativity and service, but what (clients) really want is shareholder value. Creativity still matters, but unless you can anchor the discussion in measurable data and results, your creative idea is worth nothing. To survive and remain relevant in the future, agencies must become Agencies of Return. To do that, you have to be prepared to measure everything you do, and take an honest look at your own results.
How did this happen? How did Nigeria’s darling Mad Men go from rolling in it to barely holding on? For far too long, advertising agencies have produced great Client Service Execs in the business with great market intelligence, consumer insights and trend analyst. Some clients go as far as poaching these Client Service Execs from agencies simply for sheer understanding of their business. But in recent times, you have more “yes men” posing as Client Service Execs smothering the business, creating an undulating effect of skepticism within client and agency.
Creating More Yes Men
Agencies are quickly building out (or acquiring) the traditional and digital capabilities needed to tackle every client need – except the most important one: serving the client better than anyone else, only a few do this exceptionally well. Apart from brand managers and marketing managers, Client Service Execs are brand “doctors” who confer marketing solutions to “sick” brands in need – based on tested market intelligence. You hardly ever find a patient argue about a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment for a disease. why is that? Patients trust doctors simply for share display of knowledge. When this is lacking, clients begin questioning knowledge depth and agency competence based on their representation (Client Service).
These days some Client Service Execs look unmindful in board meetings, always often than not seem to agree with every marketing solution proposed by the Client, contributing little or nothing to propositions. Market intelligence is vague; competitive industry information is abstruse which gravitates into a shift in relationship between clients and agencies from partners to master – servant. One of the causes the founding fathers of advertising in Nigeria fought against to foster better business relationship between agencies and clients. Client service is the real differentiator, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) can find creativity, they can’t find client service. Once they find client service, agency churn stops.
The Agency of Record (AOR) still is a valuable relationship at the core of a company’s marketing brigade. CMOs invest substantial time and energy in relationships with their AORs. In return, CMOs expect the AOR to anticipate needs and help reach the company’s primary business objectives. The expectation incorporates having a dedicated client service rep equipped with razor sharp industry information, ready to dispense on-demanding marketing solutions. AORs unable to deliver this are quickly replaced.
to be continued read here
Femi Osobajo, a marketing communications / corporate communications professional with OVH Energy (Oando Licensee), a downstream oil and gas company contributed this piece from Lagos. Femi can be reached @osobajoolufemi