Get face to face. While COVID guidelines and travel challenges persist, there is no substitute for in-person time. A well-planned two-day meeting with social outings after hours enables marketers to get to know, appreciate and trust their agency teams and leadership at levels unreachable when you’re simply connecting through screens.
Ask what’s missing. What’s been done isn’t all you can do. Open the conversation to recommendations your agencies have withheld, and ideas from the cutting-room floor.
Solicit category knowledge. Increasingly, new marketing leaders come from other industries. If you’re overt about areas of the business you need exposure to, you can tap the combined intelligence of experienced agency teams. They know the players, history, opportunities, and threats in the category. This speeds the shared context for existing work and, importantly, strategic planning.
Ask about your organization. Strengths and gaps within your marketing organization, from departments to individuals, aren’t immediately evident to a new brand director -- but are clear to agency teams working on the business. They know the personalities and preferences of company colleagues and leaders -- from how work gets done, measured, and presented, to the tone of creative and approach to media and retail. For example, they know firsthand whether a senior executive focuses on data or storytelling.
For their part, agencies’ first job with new marketer personnel needs to be to help educate, not rush to defend what they’ve already built. For their part, clients need to be open to the category and company intelligence that agencies can provide.
Get it right and new ideas, directions, and opportunities will emerge fast. The increased speed to synergy will make your brand more competitive than ever.