SAY recently authored an article detailing the most effective path to successful global integrated communications – published on Plexus, our Associate Agency Partnership website: https://plexuspr.com/the-eight-tenets-of-successful -international-integrated-communications/
Here is Louise Stewart-Muir’s take on what she thinks is the most ideal scenario for global communication. Let us know your thoughts and views on your experience!
If you are looking for globally integrated communication support, you are most likely thinking of three options; 1) global agency; 2) network of unaffiliated agencies; 3) internal marketing team – unfortunately each has its downsides. Global agencies are proving rigid and costly; Unaffiliated agency networks struggle with consistent communication and trying to manage your communications internally often leads to cultural misunderstandings. However, there is a fourth, more viable option, the “Associate Agency Partnership” which presents a comprehensive solution to each of the above challenges.
The associate agency partnership allows leading independent agencies to formally work with their counterparts in other countries to provide seamless and targeted services to international clients. These associated agencies choose to work together, share the same business philosophy and collaborate internationally. Not only does this approach provide the best expertise in the country to meet specific business requirements, but the formal alliance provides consistency and unity between all teams that is rarely found in unaffiliated networks of rival agencies.
By combining the best aspects of global agencies and unaffiliated networks, the associate agency partnership proves most effective in achieving the eight principles of successful integrated communication:
- Team Selection: Having the flexibility to use the right consultants for a particular task or market, working with the best talent in each country. A partnership of associated agencies provides this, allowing clients to select the composition of each team based on individual specialties;
- Effective collaboration: Consultants who work together by choice and not because of corporate ties and responsibilities tend to go the extra mile for each other. Associate agencies provide a structure that encourages the development of supportive relationships based on, but not entirely dependent on, common interests and a commitment to collaborate;
- Intimate knowledge of the country: Clients need to be reassured that there is real knowledge and expertise of the local market, such as knowledge of regulations, nuances of marketing practices in the region, relations with media and analysts and l cultural empathy in each territory in which they operate. Associated agency partnerships bring together leading local independent agencies to ensure this, which cannot be guaranteed by working with a single global agency, where the quality of teams in each country varies;
- Access to a Senior Advisor: When working with large global agencies, easy access to a senior attorney is often promised, but rarely provided. In an associate agency partnership, clients can speak to senior members of any team whenever they want, receiving in-depth insights and unique insights based on local market conditions and events;
- Extensive tools and previews: The associated agencies are distinguished by specialized sector expertise and a more personalized service, offering a better ROI and a transparent client-agency relationship. This covers public relations, influencer relations, demand generation, digital and content marketing, social and digital communications and the effective “transcreation” of marketing concepts and brand values. An associate agency partnership brings this level of service together in each country, creating a global team that is even more than the sum of its parts;
- Big doesn’t mean better: A common misunderstanding is that large global agencies have a higher caliber of consultant than mid-sized agencies. This is a massive misconception. Within medium-sized agencies, consultants have a greater opportunity to develop a fuller range of marketing skills and are not confined to one particular area of the marketing mix, as is often the case in larger agencies;
- Customer satisfaction: Client satisfaction is essential to the commercial success of a medium-sized agency and the loss of a client has a much more negative impact on its results than for a subsidiary of a multinational. Ultimately, this makes freelance agencies ‘hungrier’, more focused on delivering tangible results that positively impact a client’s bottom line, which in turn means a better return on investment for contractors. clients.
- Flexibility: A partnership of associate agencies ensures that the client can quickly ‘mix and match’ to keep what works and eliminate what doesn’t. For example, with a global agency network, there is not much you can do if the client team in a specific territory turns out to be a weak link.
By Louise Stewart-Muir, Jnt MD, SAY Communications