Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Jelena Uzelac Vasić, Strategic Development Director, DNA Communications
Although we are already almost half way through 2016, my retrospective of last year is still ongoing. When I look back on the past 16 months, I’m happy because of the multitude of successes, large and small, and the changes that were introduced. From a business point of view, I can say that the year wasn’t bad, but the feeling that our profession has been circling around the same theme for way too long, with no substantial progress or conclusions, raises concern. And it also prompted me to write these few lines.
The previous 16 months were full of a number of quasi and real professional meetings, festivals, conferences and panels, which, in an “innovative and unusual” way inexhaustibly deal with the relationship between a client and an agency. Thus, in each program or agenda of any “professional” event we can find topics such as: How to retain a client in an era of reduced budgets, Are the agency and client partners or not, Is trust the key element of successful collaboration between an agency and a client or not, and a dozen variations on the same topic. Each of them amounts to the same stories and theses, told in a different way, in the spirit of a particular speaker. Some place a little more emphasis on trust, and others on low price as a primary factor to attract and retain clients in today’s “economically unfavorable environment.” It seems to me that the answer to all these questions is quite simple and straightforward – the marketing services, or communications in general, which the agency offers to the client, either give the expected results and positive impact on the client’s operations or not! And that, it seems to me, is the whole philosophy and the primary thing agencies will have to focus on in the future if they want to stay competitive, and keep their clients, in a proper professional way. In practical terms, the model of the creative agency of some 15 years ago is being replaced by the model of an agency that must be ready for change and transformation, from being a creative adviser for communication to being a business consultant.
All kinds of relationships between people are full of emotions and changes. Relationships in the field of marketing, ie communication, are first and foremost human relations, in which everything revolves around ideas, abstractions, perceptions, subjective judgment… so it’s inevitable that this relationship is full of emotion and humanness. Because of this, it’s clear that the success of this relationship will depend on the understanding of both sides, plain talking, honesty, tolerance and trust. This is no longer a topic for panel discussions, it’s simply the acceptance of the natural law of human relations. In order to do a little more for one of the most complex relationships in the business environment, we need to go beyond emotion and love. This is where we come to the consulting role of an agency, and its primary concern for the business and business results of the client. No matter which area of communications the agency is engaged in, the reality is the same – long gone are the times when a client was happy with metrics that indicated that there was a significant increase in brand awareness, or with a prize won at a local festival of creative ideas or the number of likes. Today and in the future, the success of the agency’s work will be measured by the ROI their services have produced. This doesn’t mean that agencies should be less creative, but that they should invest all their creativity in the service of increasing sales, increasing market share or a clear measurable increase in brand awareness. Global research on the length of cooperation between clients and an agencies support this assumption, as most of the relationships between agencies and clients whose business performance is below expectations end in termination of contract. Thus, in 1984, the average length of the collaboration between a client and an agency was 7.2 years. Thirteen years later, this average was down to 5.3 years, while today’s average happy marriage (or even just a marriage in which one partner tolerates and endures the other) lasts only 2.5 years.
It’s a thin line between this topic, which we can call the key factors of successful cooperation between a client and an agency, and the position of our industry as an important part of the economy of a country. Perhaps the transformation from communication specialists into business consultants for clients will contribute to the return of a period of agency involvement in most marketing activities of clients. This will perhaps enable us, after more than 60 years, to convince the business community and top company managements that marketing is not an expense, but an investment. We still haven’t succeeded in this. The task is not easy, but it is achievable, and the evaluation of marketing activities through ROI is an important indicator that we are moving in the direction of looking at marketing as an investment. I hope it will all become clearer to marketing departments on the client side, and that they will understand that when an agency asks “What are the results of the campaign?” – their answer “The campaign passed well.” doesn’t mean anything. There are no “good, C” or “very good, B” campaigns because there are no good or bad marketing strategies and plans. There are only those that ultimately yield results or not. It’s the same with agencies – there are those that succeed in understanding and adapting to each particular client, and those that fail.