Cutting in the middle man: Intermediary relationships


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How maximising intermediary relationships can help drive your business forward.

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Cutting in the middle man: Intermediary relationships

  1. 1. Cutting in the Middle Man How maximising intermediary relationships can help drive your business forward Francesca Brosan, Chairman, Omobono Limited. April 2010 OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  2. 2. Companies have historically been highly aware of the important role intermediaries can have in driving their business forward Companies have historically To misquote Mark Twain, 70 per cent of business in been highly aware of the ‘rumours of the demise of the financial services, and up to 40 important role intermediaries intermediary are grossly per cent of business in other can have in driving their exaggerated’. sectors, comes through business forward, with 70 per intermediaries. In these uncertain times there cent of business in financial are two reasons in particular services, and up to 40 per cent why it is more important than of business in other sectors, ever to continue to build strong coming through these channels. relationships with the But in this the internet and social intermediary audience. media age, the predominance of The first is a simple rule of search and online aggregation business: relationships are the sites throws up a question about currency of business; those the continuing value of the companies who put time into intermediary in more than one effort building those marketplace. Do you need an relationships will gain intermediary if you can simply commercial advantage. search for what you want and Products and services are then buy it direct online? extremely similar, and can be The answer is that purchase copied overnight. When all choice is not that simple. Whilst other things are equal it is your we may be happy to buy relationship with a company, or straightforward products online, with a brand, which makes the more complex purchases tend difference between who you to be ones for which we’ll seek chose to work with. advice, from friends and colleagues and from professionals in the sector. OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  3. 3. Insurance aggregation sites are So if we believe that the a case in point. Between two intermediary channel is companies listed equally high on important, and we believe it the table, you are more likely to needs to be worked on what buy from the company you are should we be doing and where more familiar with, rather the should we be spending our one at the top you’ve never tightening budgets to best heard of. It is relationships, effect? established over time, that keep The famous ‘Man in the Chair’ customers choosing you over advertisement from McGraw Hill the competition. argued strongly in favour of the The second reason is a power of advertising to create common feature of the current the type of familiarity we have economic climate. There are no been talking about. But new customers. And those that intermediary communications are in the market are highly risk are at the other end of the averse. They are looking for spectrum from this. Most of the reassurance in their buying people you are talking to know decisions, not going out on a who you are. They also know limb to do something they’ve who your competition is (and are never done before. likely to be working with them as well). This is where the intermediary relationships feature with strength. New business is more likely to be driven from the customers you are already doing business with. If their relationship is with an intermediary and you stop talking to the intermediary, guess whose products or services will be recommended? Not yours. OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  4. 4. Your brand is being ‘experienced’ every day in lots of different ways. What’s in the tin is a complex range of products and services and it’s experienced by a wide range of people at the customer end (not just the cat). Administrators, sales staff, advisors, principals. They are all interacting with the provider. And every day their experience of that provider influences their One argument is that you don’t propensity to recommend you to need to communicate with their customers. All of which intermediaries when budgets puts communications in a very are tight because your existing different light to something you brand equity will carry you switch on and off to generate through. But sadly not every sales. brand has the equity of Whiskas. This is because doing As the diagram (Fig.1) shows business in financial services is the decision making process for simply not the same as buying an IFA or broker when cat food. Apart from the obvious considering purchase decisions. reasons (no cats involved), Products and services are table product and service delivery is stakes. very different in B2B. It’s vital to get them right but the If you buy cat food the product is things that will make a likely to be the same week in difference to their selection of week out. It delivers you rather than someone else consistently to you (or at least on panel will be more complex your cat). In financial services it than this. doesn’t quite work like this. OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  5. 5. It will depend on a dual As Figure 2 shows, corporate assessment of what’s good for relationships are complex. the customer and what’s good Doing it better means looking at for their business. What begins every aspect of the as a rational analysis becomes communication with customers. highly influenced by the This, in turn, means that the role emotional factors which drive of marketing becomes that of an perceived differentiation. enabler, linking parts of your Communications with channel organisation to parts of the audiences are often handled by customer’s organisation. a specialist team, maybe even Communications become not a one person, a key account sales tool but a value adding manager. But because of the function to build the relationship. complexity of the customer experience of your brand, Finally, don’t forget that the leaving one team or individual to intermediary experience of your manage it means that you are company is heavily influenced potentially missing vital by a broader ‘ecosphere’ where opportunities to strengthen the the opinion of the regulator, of relationship. other advisers or the public will have an impact on their propensity to do business with Fig. 1 you. Source: Research conducted for Legal & General, February 2007 OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  6. 6. Mapping these connections, and relationship), 80 to 100 per cent identifying where the of your communications hit the relationships can be bin. If you are a preferred strengthened, in particular via supplier, only between 20 and improving digital engagement is 60 per cent of your a valuable exercise. communications hit the bin. Fig. 2 This means that between 40 and 80 per cent don’t. Some retention email campaigns, which are supported by client centric micro sites for example, are getting 70 to 100 per cent conversion rates. Building better intermediary relationships Intermediary relationships are Source: Omobono Limited, April 2009 multilevel. You are reaching not Enterprise Relationship one but a whole layer of Management, the process used personnel within the company. by Omobono to map the And, as we have seen, they are audiences and identify the interacting with a range of relationship management task personnel within your company. reveals opportunities which are Administrators may be more not apparent from a linear likely to interact with your IT perspective. systems than your people, sales The more value you add to the people and advisors want relationship, the more it pays insight which they can use in back. their conversations with customers. Principals will want 3 According to Marketwatch if input which helps them run a you are a non-preferred supplier better business. (i.e. you don’t have a OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  7. 7. Digital communications has a significant role to play in building intermediary relationships. CONCLUSION All intermediaries are not the Once the task has been same. Like any other audience, clarified, the process of segmentation by size, by identifying the contribution that customer type and by product digital communications can spread will reveal useful insights make to improve the which will enable you to build relationship. the relationship further. After all, the hardwiring is As the diagram (Fig. 3) shows, already in place. The extranets, there is a straightforward the intranets, the customer log approach to developing in sites are already there. Now intermediary relationships. it is simply a question of working out how to use them better. Fig.3 Source: Omobono Limited, April 2010 OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  8. 8. Sources: Relationships drive We drive your relationships. 1. Research conducted for Legal your business. & General - February 2007 2. Omobono Limited - April 2009 3. MarketWatch, ERM® helps world class 4. Omobono Limited - April 2010 For further information on how organisations drive Omobono helps its clients create value from their business value from intermediary relationships by examining the relationships please contact Fran ways they interact with their direct Brosan ( or and intermediary customers, Ben Dansie ( partners and staff; and how that is on 01223 307000. For Omobono’s measured to help achieve Enterprise Relationship Map, see organisational goals, deliver to customers and create mutual value. We look largely at the contribution online technologies can play, and About the Author: how companies can Francesca Brosan is Chairman maximise value from the and Founder of Omobono Limited, infrastructure put in place over the the digital communications services past 5 – 10 years. By exploring company. A former Board Director alternative approaches to improving of WCRS, her career has spanned B2B marketing effectiveness, ERM consumer advertising, PR, live enables us to think about marketing events and digital. She now differently, to put it back to its focuses on B2B strategy for the original place; where marketing has agency’s corporate and public a meaning and purpose beyond sector clients. Francesca is the communication and becomes a author of 3 IPA Advertising business essential, not a business Effectiveness Awards and is a expense. regular speaker and contributor to marketing forums. OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |