Deep Dive Into the Trials & Tribulations of the SEM Agency Executive by Marc Poirer


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From SMX East 2013 - Scaling Your Search Marketing Efforts: Agency Edition - Dive Into the Trials & Tribulations of the SEM Agency Executive by Marc Poirer #SMX #23B

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Deep Dive Into the Trials & Tribulations of the SEM Agency Executive by Marc Poirer

  1. 1. Deep-Dive Into the Trials and Tribulations of the SEM Agency Executive
  2. 2. Acquisio and Agency Executives • We sell software almost exclusively to agency executives • Never took the time to really try to understand who they are • Needed a reality check • Hired an independent research firm to help us create a persona • Research lasted 2 months – December 2012 and January 2013 • 15 SEM agency executives were interviewed • 60 minute interviews over the phone • Semi-structured interview with open-ended questions • Interviews were conducted by analyst • Results were compiled in February • First time we share this information. Who is the SEM Agency Executive?
  3. 3. Interview Objectives • Understanding the problems Agency Executives face in creating, communicating, and delivering value to CMOs. • Exploring the future of Interactive Agencies by gathering the perspective of the Agency Executives responsible for moving their agency forward. • Determining the strategic role of technology vendors in making Agency Executives more successful with their clients.
  4. 4. Persona: Brian Ops 15 SEM Agency Executives in ONE!
  5. 5. • The senior-most executive … • Chief Operating Officers, VP of Interactive, SVP of Integrated marketing • Adult-level problems and budgets, typically at larger firms with a broader portfolio of offerings to CMOs • Manages the blend of operations and customer-focused services with a futuristic view • Responsible for the productivity of the agency… • Increasing revenue and managing cost of sales (SG&A) • And the alignment of the cross-functional resources required to achieve results. • Working with sales and marketing leaders across the organization • Views productivity as a system, not an individual activity • Focused on working backwards from what CMOs want Who is Brian Ops?
  7. 7. Brian’s Charter “My core charter involves making sure our existing customers are growing their business with us. That means they need to be serviced in the proper way and they need to achieve the results we agreed to. I need to do that in a profitable way. On top of that, I need to think about the future services and products to offer, identify new acquisitions, and find the right technology partners. We need new capabilities to enable digital performance on a global scale by maximizing all channels, and also adding new channels over time. We need to make sure that is done in a holistic manner by leveraging our people and our processes to achieve the growth we need to stay competitive -- and somehow do that in a way that says ‘we’re different than the other guy’” It’s all about customer growth and satisfaction
  9. 9. Brian on Change We are so KPI driven that we often fail to think about things like messaging, storytelling, etc. Today my clients work with 1 advertising company, 1 digital company, 1 media company, 1 creative company, 1 web agency, 1 technology company, 1 PR company, 1 social media company, etc. And all these companies don’t necessarily work together to adapt to the customer. If we could address all of these things, We could address more of the value chain for clients. We need to change how we’re working so we can be more valuable to customers. We Need to Change How we Work
  10. 10. Brian on Enabling “Performance Marketing” “A lot of how we work is done in silos inside the agency. In other words when a contract comes in, there is a process involved, and that process needs to be enabled. When we look at how we work, and what is required to bring our team together, to make decisions, and then take action on behalf of clients, there is a lot of complexity. We need to enable that somehow so that we can continue to evolve. I think this is how the industry needs to evolve as well ” We Can’t Continue to Work in Silos
  11. 11. Brian on the Need for a Vision A lot of what we sell is “smarts.” We work hard to break down silos internally and force a more coordinated effort to focus solely on the customer’s integrated view of digital. We don’t want to run search just for the sake of running search. Our value lies in adding the art to the science. That means we’re bringing something different to the CMO – often what they don’t even know about. So, we’ve got to be different – everyone says ‘we can perform better’ – but it goes beyond that – so what is it? We’re Selling Smarts
  12. 12. Brian on the value contribution to clients “My job requires that I grow our client base and improve the satisfaction of clients with our organization. I need to make sure our clients are serviced correctly and that we are increasing the profitability of each client engagement. We need to deliver in a holistic manner and add value to marketers in a variety of ways, not just in one or two channels. That means we need more of a 360 degree view of the objectives we’re driving for marketers – everything from the partnership we’re creating, to the way the channels blend to drive incremental value, to the value we’re providing related to the latest trends in mobile and social.” We Need to Add Value at Every Touch Point
  14. 14. Brian on his value to marketers We need to be driving business results and revenue for our clients. We need to do this over a long-term – it’s not just a one-time project. Through our relationship we need to uncover the formula for success and iterate with clients over time. They are struggling with what they are doing and the results they’re getting. Our job is to help them overcome those challenges and get the most out of their marketing spend in a way that drives more profitability and results for their company. We’re Selling Results
  15. 15. Brian on Improving the Customer Experience “We are the digital strategy lead in a lot of our client companies. We actually become part of their team. We take the needs they have and translate that into specific actions that will get them their results. We work with customers in a way that helps them acquire more budget and more resources to achieve their results” We Need to Become Part of Their Team
  16. 16. Brian on Aligning the Agency to the Customer “We find that we often have to help our clients evolve their business strategy. We push them to think about the real issues and to become more and more precise. We bring a holistic lens that helps them innovate and integrate their thinking. That requires us to maintain a high level of intimacy with them while we’re focused on continuously improving results over time” We Influence Our Clients’ Business Strategy
  17. 17. Brian on Providing thought leadership “We have to stay on top of what’s going on with technology and best practices. We need to provide thought leadership and guidance to help translate strategy into results through better execution. We sometimes have to educate the marketer on digital media best practices and we sometimes have to have more strategic conversations that are more business oriented to provide a solution of how digital can complement their strategy. That means we have a role to play in future proofing what they’re doing as a business.” We Need to Educate Clients to Drive More Business
  18. 18. Brian on Creating a Forward-Looking Strategy “I try to get a variety of different perspectives from our C-Level customers in order to find out what their challenges are and what their most pressing issues are. When I do that, I need to make sure that we’re able understand those problems and add that to our current level of expertise and thought leadership in a way that drives towards enabling the marketing needs of the future. We need to build these insights into a corporate strategy to help our customers become smarter marketers .” Our Customers Help Us Understand The Best Way Forward
  19. 19. Brian on Differentiating From Other Agencies “We need to help CMOs and marketers get to where the consumers are. Digital is becoming more of a commodity. The industry is trying to do traditional strategies with digital approaches and the challenge is reaching targets at a lower cost. Agencies will face increased price pressure to do more with less. We have a heavy human focus, where we are labor intensive. That manual nature of our work causes us to compete on the lowest common denominator. We need to automate where we can so we can differentiate in our ability to execute and add value. Can’t Compete on Lowest Common Denominator
  21. 21. Brian on Organizational Issues “A lot of what we do is art informed by science. The value we provide to marketing executives is largely found in the expertise and skills of our employees. We work hard to retain the best talent, and make sure we’re helping them stay on top of the newest trends. When we find a great person, it’s really hard to scale that person’s expertise out across the organization.” Our Overall Staff Retention & Expertise are Crucial
  22. 22. Brian on Agility We try to offer flexibility so we can deliver more campaigns more rapidly than before for our clients. That means we need to be creative in designing a strategy that is adaptable , the strategy needs to support a trial and error approach, so we can put that strategy into action in a way that drives efficiency, effectiveness and drives impact for our customers. To keep it simple, we need to eliminate as much operational waste as possible, so we can rapidly improve traffic and sales for our customers. Flexibility Also Drives Better Results
  23. 23. Brian on Measuring and Analyzing Results “A lot of times when we meet with the CMO, their analytics/data guy is right there with them in the meeting. Clients expect us to add value when it comes to understanding and leveraging data across the various channels and across their various brands and sites. We need to start hiring more mathematicians, programmers, scientists and statisticians and less History and Philosophy majors.” We Need a Deeper Understanding of Data
  24. 24. Brian on Communicating value to clients “When it comes down to it, we are really selling outcomes. Outcomes like revenue growth and sales. Some of our clients are interested in the journey to get to outcomes, others want to know what technology we’re using. Some CMOs probe on the results more than on the strategies we employ, but more and more of them are becoming savvy to what’s going on because they want to drive accountability and responsibility. They want to know are we getting enough out of this channel and is it performing well or not? We need data for that” Clients Want More Detailed Information Than Ever!
  25. 25. Brian on Optimizing Internal Resources “Our customers need to make choices. They need to decide if we should go ahead and build out best practices across the board right away, or if we should find the low hanging fruit and prioritize the work by identifying what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to work better. What that then requires us to do is prioritize our work accordingly. The way we prioritize what we do and how we do it will drive the initial workflow. That workflow needs to adapt quickly to changes in strategy and execution requirements. We are constantly trying to optimize each client’s workflow to serve our clients better “ Workflows Need Constant Optimization
  26. 26. Brian on the Role of Technology We need software with real workflow in it, that provides consistency in the business sector we need to operate in, and will allow us to move more quickly and drive more consistency with customers. The integration of the horizontal business processes like customer relationship management and the workflows involved in prioritizing what we do with clients and how we do what we do is becoming more important. We need to rely on technology to sift through patterns, sort and group, and handle the complexity around us. Technology has a huge role to play in helping us prioritize, manage time, and improve speed to put things into the right order. We’re on the clock, and our clients are too
  27. 27. Brian on Managing technology and infrastructure “There is a rapid evolution in client maturity which we need to get ready for. There are more and more sophisticated performance marketers seeking help from agencies to operate technology platforms, and there is an expectation of receiving highly sophisticated services that fully leverage data and technology That means our staff needs to be experts at taking full advantage of best in class technologies. It also means we need to make our own choices in technology to manage our workflow and help us move from reactive to more adaptive processes and approaches.” Technology makes us more productive
  28. 28. • Need to Integrate Disciplines / Channels Beyond Search • Agencies Need Reorganization (Specialists and Generalists) and New Skills (Data!) • More Automation is Required to Help Differentiate and Add Value on Strategy • Agency Team Needs to Become One with Client Team and Take the Lead on Strategy • Educate Clients and Establish Thought Leadership – Become Trusted Advisor • Need to Improve How They Communicate Value to Clients Summary of Findings
  29. 29. THANKS! Questions? Contact me for more info: