An effective media strategy is a client’s best friend, especially in the current climate where many brands are decreasing their spending.
Against a background of up to 30% of budgets being wasted due to misinterpreted briefs, agencies are under more pressure than ever to create media strategies that deliver meaningful growth. The smoothest path from brief to output comes when agency teams are embedded within the marketing department itself.
We first started embedding teams in 2017 and have extensive first-hand experience of how getting close to the action helps deliver effective and impactful campaigns. Better understanding on all sides, better collaboration between everyone, and more effective work are the results. Here are a few of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.
Next-level business understanding
The most frustrated I’ve seen clients is when they’ve been presented with a media strategy that doesn’t reflect the reality of the entire business. A strategy that stands in isolation is unlikely to succeed. But as all agency planners know, getting access to the entire business isn’t always easy. A modern media strategy inevitably requires collaboration across multiple teams and stakeholders to be successful. It may sound like an obvious point, but it is an area where having an embedded team makes a huge difference to the speed and efficiency with which that collaboration can happen.
Embedding agency people alongside their counterparts in client offices is transformational when it comes to forging meaningful bonds with departments beyond the one that is directly employing you. It makes it so much easier to build an understanding of what makes a business tick and gain buy-in from all departments and senior stakeholders who might have a lighter-touch connection with our work.
Those casual corridor conversations and invitations to meetings that come with being embedded with a client are opportunities to champion the value of media thinking and make sure those strategies you are presenting are hitting the right points. It also usually means less negotiation on the final media strategy because communication channels have been well-established, and trust has already been built up.
A good idea doesn’t mind who had it
Smart activation ideas are the true test of a decent media strategy and form the basis of meeting client expectations of innovation and impact: the sparks of inspiration that make comms experiences memorable for an audience.
Embedded teams make it much more likely that those good ideas will materialise and that good ideas can become great ones for two reasons. Firstly, because everyone is so much more immersed in the nuances of the brand you’re working with. Workshopping in a client’s office on a regular basis can help you see where elements from across the business could become magic dust to be sprinkled into the media strategy.
The second reason is that embedding means an immediate reduction in the time and cost spent briefing different departments. The embedded teams need to quickly get good at knowing when to bring conversations together: media with creative, with customer, and with data teams (amongst many others). That means embedded teams can quickly allow us to workshop ideas and solutions that bring our strategic “red thread” to life in a wide range of channels.
Successful media strategy is built on collaboration
Non-embedded approaches have not just figurative but literal walls between a brand’s marketing team and their media agency. That can hamper media strategies from being created and implemented effectively. Embedded teams are one way to break down these walls. An agency’s influence can grow with, for example, greater access to a client’s customers, their website team, or a product earlier in its lifecycle.
Agencies, influencers, media vendors, tech platforms: marketing teams work with more different partners and inputs to build their brand than ever before. At a time when brands are struggling for cut-through and consumers are facing an uncertain economic environment, there’s no reason why a truly visionary media strategy shouldn’t become a business strategy, underpinning the entire marketing operation of a brand. Embedded teams are a great stepping-stone to reaching that level of holistic strategic execution.
When you’ve become a valuable extra voice to shared watercooler moments, you can come to be seen as the reliable lynchpin that’s helping to hold things together. In other words, truly integrated with a client’s business on a day-to-day basis. If that happens, not only are you likely to be growing both your business and theirs, but you’ll also be best placed to deliver truly great strategy.
Don’t settle for mediocre media strategies. Embed your agency team within your marketing department to deliver impactful campaigns that drive meaningful growth.
This article was first featured on Media Leader.