By Brunner Marketing Team5/9/2020

Adopting the Blended Agency Model: Q&A

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On March 25th, 2020 Brunner co-hosted a webinar with Forrester’s Jay Pattisall, a Forrester analyst, discussing the “Blended Agency Model” which is designed to help agencies effectively adopt collaboration trends that can break silos. In this informational session, Jay Pattisall talked about the importance of collaboration and how it can be effective at building lasting partnerships and positive outcomes with your client partners.

Brunner has adopted the “Blended Agency Model”, trusting in the power of people, which is why we implement a “business-with” rather than a “business-for” mentality. During this webinar which was guided by our agency, we brought to life how the “Blended Agency Model” has been embraced and applied in partnership with our client, Highmark Health.

Below, we share some of the great questions along with Jay’s responses from this webinar:

QUESTION: For a company just starting to build out in-house capabilities, what is the right mix of capabilities/specializations and personnel to start, and who is the best stakeholder to lead the development and management of an in-house agency team?

JAY’S ANSWER: The manner in which companies stand up an in-house team depends upon the capability or type of in-house resource. Creative services and production teams are more straightforward capabilities to establish because the talent is abundant and the outputs ubiquitous. In-house digital media capabilities require more specialized, difficult-to-recruit talent. Start with a business case. For creative services, your business case should demonstrate annual savings, calculated as the cost of in-house resources minus the cost of paying an external partner. The business case for digital media operations demonstrates a more effective and efficient use of media dollars. This requires that a robust data analytics practice be in place to determine scale and impact. In either instance, the in-house team should be led by an agency veteran with both in-house and external agency experience. Nearly 50% of in-house leads have experience managing both internal and external teams.

QUESTION: Should an in-house agency strive to do it all, or are there key disciplines and capabilities that in-house agencies should lean on partners to provide vs. building and delivering via the in-house model?

JAY’S ANSWER: No single agency can do it all. Partners and specialists are always required. Blending expertise gives marketers the best of both worlds. In the case of in-house agencies owning data analytics, customer marketing, customer experience, CRM, eCommerce capabilities, and advertising/marketing technology relationships, it gives the company the strategic advantage of owning its customer data, protecting customer privacy, and managing strategy. In-house teams and external agencies should share responsibilities for strategy, analytics, creative services, and, in some cases, media. This provides marketers with the right blend of internal brand and business knowledge and external expertise.

QUESTION: What are some key characteristics associated with agencies that make them a good fit to support the blended agency model, and what is the right approach to effectively integrating in-house agency resources and outside agency partner teams?

JAY’S ANSWER: Three characteristics of agencies that effectively support a blended model are collaboration, adaptability, and improvement. Agencies eager to blend with internal partners possess a consultative, client-obsessed mindset. These agencies look for ways to add value by collaborating with in-house teams on strategies, cocreating solutions and taking accountability for results. Agencies that constantly adapt or reinvent their offerings beyond table stakes propositions provide clients the latest thinking, innovation, and capabilities to complement in-house teams. Agencies that build training and certification programs to improve their employees’ and clients’ knowledge of digital marketing, technology platforms, and advanced strategies create an environment of partnership. Setting these conditions creates an environment for blending agency resources, ideas, and accomplishments.

QUESTION: What are key performance measures to manage the effectiveness and performance of in-house agencies?

JAY’S ANSWER: Most firms assess the in-house contribution as savings derived from the delta of in-house costs from external agency fees. However, research shows cost efficiencies are not the only metric firms value. They also look for nimble execution, brand/business knowledge, and positive business growth. In-house teams provide speed and nimble execution by being co-located with clients in the same office or building. In-house teams are 100% dedicated to the business and develop important institutional knowledge. Ultimately, having an impact on business success and sales is the most important milestone for any agency.

Get additional detail about the webinar here.

If you’re looking for a stronger partner relationship with your agency please get in touch with us!