The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.
Start small, think big, learn fast: how true scalable marketing works
The TIPi Group, a network of specialist digital agencies, recently launched a scalable agency solution, known as The Market, spearheaded by managing director Camilla King.
Given her ten years' worth of experience in the industry, King has helped to establish and grow various agency models, including Minute Steak, the sister agency to STEAK, and ROAST. Following these ventures, King is now helping to push The Market as an extension of TIPi Group's agency offering, providing flexible solutions from light-touch client servicing, to heightened support during peak times and full-scale outsourcing as an extension of inhouse teams.
The Drum Network caught up with King to find out why now was the right time to launch The Market, the importance of being flexible and what the new model will bring the industry.
There have been various attempts by larger networks to launch scalable marketing solutions to win smaller clients, why do you think it’s worked for The Market?
Camilla King: We’ve seen the frustration in how the traditional agency model isn’t suitable for some businesses. It might be a period of growth or a period of uncertainty, but in certain instances it’s clear that the fixed retainer just isn’t sustainable for all. The Market cater for these companies to support them during times of change, rather than force a format which doesn’t work for the client, and therefore ultimately doesn’t work for the agency. We’re not angling specifically for smaller clients, but for businesses with unique requirements and I think that’s the difference.
What do you feel clients want from an agency today? More creativity; the freedom to test and learn? How have you approached this with your clients?
CK: Flexibility. With the current economic uncertainty, there is a real need to be able to adapt. Our approach is to encourage clients to continually evolve in digital – test new ad formats, respond to competitor campaigns, upweight/down weight budgets, enter new markets. We stick by the mantra – start small, think big, learn fast. Testing doesn’t need to be a massive investment, and as long as you can respond quickly to what the learnings are, the risk should be minimal.
Only a few weeks ago Starling bank eliminated all larger agency networks form its media review preferring to work with smaller agencies. This is of course a more cost-efficient approach, but would you agree that brands are looking for a more specialist approach especially with SEO, Content and experiential media?
CK: Yes, specialist agencies can offer cost efficiencies, but they should also be nimble enough to innovate in their response to industry changes. Most of the brands we work with don’t have big “Innovation” budgets that they’re willing to blow on moon-shot ideas, so we think about innovation in a different way. We simply assess how we can use the latest tech, device, or consumer trends to steal a march on competitors. Voice is a perfect example of this. 22.4% of UK internet users use a smart speaker at least once a month (12.6M adults) which indicates the size of the opportunity. If small brands jump into the arena early then they have a great chance of leading the charge longer term. Innovating in burgeoning spaces such as enables smaller brands to steal huge chunks of market share from more established and less agile competitors, without having to spend big.
If you were a CMO today what would you be expecting your agency to deliver?
CK: I would be looking for proactivity and passion to navigate through what is quite an uncertain time. There are lots of opportunities to innovate for efficiencies and learnings, so I would want the agency partner to identify these quickly and proactively put testing plans together.
The Market have the luxury of being part of a dynamic network of TIPi Group’s digital specialists. Our teams are relentlessly exploring how we can improve campaigns; leveraging accumulative learnings from all of our agencies. We then apply these insights to unlock opportunities enabling us to constantly push the boundaries for each of our clients. This is now more important than ever as the role of the CMO becomes increasingly diversified.
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