To capture the business of today’s nascent streaming services and forward-thinking networks, agencies must understand well both the brand and its customers, said a panel of executives at Promax’s first-ever State of Our Marketplace panel on Tuesday evening.
But with the volume of television higher than ever, these services are seeking help. The question is: what kind of help?
Outside of CBS’ own in-house marketing team, Mike Benson, president and CMO of CBS Corp., said there’s a need for partners that provide fresh perspective on how brands can reach, understand, and engage with CBS’ customers.
“I’m not just trying to go out and find agencies who can do better trailers,” Benson said. “How do you [help us] understand [our] customers better so we can really be surgical in speaking to them in the way that we need to.”
John Rood, SVP of marketing at Disney Channels Worldwide, said brands are moving toward external help now more than ever to solve problems their in-house teams can’t.
“I’m looking for something that I don’t have in house,” added Tricia Melton, SVP marketing, creative and brand at Freeform. “It’s not just bodies, editors or a great creative director… I’m looking for expertise in a particular area.”
Steven Melnick, SVP and head of marketing at Disney Television Studios, encourages agencies to be proactive, think critically and stay up-to-date on how businesses are changing, merging and going into new ownership.
“We are all not competing with each other. We’re actually competing for a customer’s time. And if you think about that, I think there’s a great opportunity to experiment and play around,” he said.
Sometimes, however, experimentation comes at a cost. That’s why agencies must balance creativity with delivering work that’s realistic for the client.
“If you can create a relationship [with a client] where you can experiment in a cost-effective way, you can take those learnings and do a lot more with that customer to earn trust and build a relationship,” Melnick said.
Content needs aren’t the same across the board, however. For Freefrom, whose audience comprises Generation Z as well as millennials age 18-34, audience awareness is key to understanding the necessary deliverables.
“I need agencies that really understand social-forward content that’s not an afterthought [or] just about resizing something. [An agency] that truly understands the difference in the platforms, because that’s where my audience is… That’s an area that I still think within our industry there could be some real focus.”
First impressions are key as well, including the initial services an agency offers. Rather than claiming an array of services, execs encourage agencies to emphasize the one or two things they truly do best.
“I dislike the generic term of a ‘full-service agency’ versus ‘niche.’ I think it’s outdated itself,” said Scott Edwards, EVP and head of creative advertising at Fox Entertainment. “It’s really understanding what you’re better at than someone else.”
“What’s your superpower? What do you do better than anyone else?” Benson asked. “Really think about what your superpower is, then be a marketer and articulate that.”
“It’s tough to be good at all things, [so] be great at something,” Melton added.
In the end, the ideal partner embodies confidence, creativity and knowledge of the brand. They also present themselves in a way that not only stands out, but embodies the work that’ll be delivered.
“When you pitch those ideas, surprise me,” Benson said. “Because if I don’t surprise the audience, if I just lay it out there and hope that they’re going to do something about it, then I’m probably going to get the same response from the customers that I’ve [already] tried to reach. So do your homework. Don’t be afraid to put an idea out there and then surprise me with the way that you’re going to put that in front of me.”
On March 31, Promax will present part two of State of our Marketplace in New York, where marketing executives will continue to discuss their changing needs amid consolidations, mergers and new platforms. Registration is now open.
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