FROM SERVICE PROVIDER TO SPARRING PARTNER

Low appreciation of marketing, creativity and strategic-creative advice - this can be concluded from the planned budget cuts in industrial marketing, as described in the latest study of the Federal Association of Industry Communication e.V. (bvik). Does the German industry kill the agency world with this strategy or does it harm itself in global competition? The evaluation of a Worldwide Partners study (1), which Ingrid Wächter-Lauppe was recently able to present in Straubing at the bvik-event on "From Service Provider to Sparring Partner: The Cooperation of B2B Companies and Agencies" (2), suggests the latter; but read her conclusion on the event and the discussion on future opportunities of agencies yourself.

THE BUSINESSTEAM OF THE FUTURE?

The bvik event at the home of Sennebogen Maschinenfabrik GmbH themed the new tense situation in B2B marketing and the future of marketing agencies. First, Michael Ibarth, Marketing Director of Sennebogen, together with his colleagues presented the impressive performance of their internal marketing department, their lead agency and special service providers. Professor Carsten Baumgarth from the HWR Berlin spoke about the bvik study (3) on "Agency - Company". Afterwards, I talked about the global developments in the fragile network of companies and agencies. The study of our Worldwide Partners network in collaboration with the CMO Council (1), despite many similar results, showed significant differences, perhaps the most important: internationally, marketing is not seen as a cost factor, but as an investment that will ensure long-term growth. Can this give us hope for marketing agencies?

THE CLASSIC FULL SERVICE AGENCY IS DEAD ...

... was one of the theses in the general panel discussion. All participants unreservedly agreed with this statement: no agency can provide the full range of services anymore. The agency life cycle needs constant renewal, in which agencies are practiced. Full service agencies thus become full thinking agencies and/or collaboration moderators. Although some particularly trend-conscious sail only under a new flag, others have plenty of experience with networking and the (not always) smooth orchestration and integration of specialized service providers. The two company representatives on the podium reported that they are increasingly taking on collaboration tasks themselves and thus become a "kit-greasers" for the armada of specialized service providers. Since you need specialist knowledge even as a kit-greaser, they have expanded their in-house departments accordingly.

THE PURE ADVERTISING AGENCY IS DEAD ...

... everyone agreed that this type of agency will not exist much longer. Almost every advertising agency also offers digital services that go beyond a banner design, just as almost every digital agency offers creative Work or brand building as a service. It is sad, that the actually beautiful term "advertising" has become so old-fashioned! Perhaps the gathered advertising agencies could use their creative minds to replace it with a new, more "sexy" term. The terms "creative agency" or "idea agency" have been around for a long time, but all too often these therms are associated with a strategically inferior "bunch" or the B2C agency that produces expensive TV spots to win an industry award.

In general, creativity in the German B2B industry does not seem to be as appreciated as it is in the rest of the world, where agencies that deliver top-notch creations continue to be in demand among companies (even those that have large in-house agencies). The global CMO Worldwide Partners study also identifies an insourcing trend in content and online services as well as outsourcing trends in live events and creative work. A panel discussion at the last Worldwide Partners meeting with global, internal and external agency leaders, for example of Disney and Lego, underlined this global tendency to take advantage of external creativity and appreciating its value. However, creative work is not understood as the aggregation of images from databases, but as the development of new ideas and delivery of impulses in all areas: for business ideas, business processes, products, services, attitude and culture to unusual but also therefore effective communication design. Thus interpreted creativity is also appreciated in this country. For example, Kai Halter, Director Marketing of ebm-papst Mulfingen GmbH & Co.KG, in the final statement on the podium designates the agency partner as ideal, who gives impulses and with whom one can develop ideas together.

LONG LIVE THE SMALL, ADVANCED SPECIALIST!

Both the studies and the discussion suggest that agencies that specialize and can quickly act as "fire brigades" have a future. Whether this future is rosy, is another question, because the agencies have to bow to the budget cuts and the cost pressure that the B2B companies have already ushered in the context of underwhelming growth forecasts.

LONG LIVE THE CREATIVE BUSINESS TEAM!

According to the bvik study, classic management consultants are almost never commissioned by the interviewed marketing managers. Such consulting firms generally come into the company via the CFO with cost saving promises (and incidentally with very different hourly rates). The opinion of the agency representatives is that strategic partners would be a real benefit for the marketing managers. They need strategic partners with a true understanding of the business, who can overcome operational and industry blindness.

Together with Marketeers, they can develop value-adding solutions, open up new earning potentials and secure long-term growth. There are some agencies that can do that, but far fewer than the many advisory services offered by agencies suggest. These experts have strategic skills, are familiar with digital data management and transformation and are creative - a strength that corporate and IT consultations tend to lack. The consultants can be the gravediggers of all creativity (4).

Agencies are the better consultants to Marketeers because they are focused on brands and their customers, as W & V writes (5) and refers to the CMO-WWP study, which emphasizes customer centricity as the key success driver. The agency can become a trusted partner. Some refer to this type of agency as a lead agency, a term that was the least controversial in the panel discussion, but whose commissioning, according to the bvik study, hardly plays a role from the perspective of German industrial companies. The CMOs in the global CMO-Worldwide Partners study, on the other hand, expressly want partners who work together with them to achieve their ambitious business goals.

LONG LIVE THE DREAM TEAM MARKETEER & AGENCY, ...

...which sees itself as a joint value creator and growth driver. In the areas of budgets, growth and value creation, the biggest difference between international and German attitudes became apparent. This discrepancy was still being discussed animatedly during the break. Globally, the most important task of marketing is seen as securing growth, which is why, despite adverse circumstances, no budget cuts are planned, but rather investments are made in measures that secure and drive growth. "Create value and not miss opportunities" is the motto of global CMOs. In German industry, on the other hand, the all-dominant motto currently seems to be cost saving. However, this means that opportunities are being massively missed, especially since competition is increasingly being decided by marketing.

Quality in products and service has made the German industry successful, now it risks losing the competitive advantages and the successes of the past through shortened, weakened marketing. I see the most urgent task for a German Dream Team Marketeer - Agency in convincing the respective C-Suite that marketing is essential for survival, especially in these difficult times, and that highest quality in marketing is an investment that is worthwhile because it creates values and a head start in global competition: Then both - marketing and agile agencies have a good future.

And at the end; Self-Marketing

We, Wächter & Wächter Worldwide Partners, have a strategic understanding of business, we are experienced networkers or collaboration world champions and we know how to tap into sources of income with creative, internal or external, analogue or digital communication, how to develop new markets and write success stories. We Create Business. We would love to become sparring partners for other marketing managers and develop ideas together for a good, secure future.

If you also want to realize success stories, please contact us at

Wächter & Wächter Worldwide Partners
mail: nb@waechter-waechter.de

Brand Guards:
www.brandguards.de
mail: iwl@brandguards.de

Sources:
1 CMO Council (2019) in Zusammenarbeit mit Worldwide Partners. inc: "RESHAPING GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT OPERATIONS" https://cmocouncil.org/thought-leadership/reports/reshaping-global-engag....
2 bvik (2019) "Vom Dienstleister zum Sparringspartner: Zusammenarbeit B2B-Unternehmen und -Agenturen“ https://bvik.org/veranstaltung/vom-dienstleister-zum-sparringspartner/
3 bvik (2019) "Zusammenarbeit B2B Unternehmen und Agenturen" https://bvik.org/bvik-befragung-zusammenarbeit-b2b-unternehmen-agenturen/
4 Lehne, L. (2017) "Berater fressen Agenturen zum Frühstück" https://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/bilanz/article168633108/Berater-fressen-A...
5 Breyer, C. (2019) "Warum Agenturen die besseren Berater sind" https://www.wuv.de/wuvplus/warum_agenturen_die_besseren_berater_sind


Ingrid Wächter-Lauppe's picture

Ingrid Wächter-Lauppe

Geschäftsführende Gesellschafterin der Wächter & Wächter Worldwide Partners

i.waechterlauppe@waechter-waechter.de