This is a live blog post from the Acquisio User Summit 2012. Everything that follows is a representation of what the speakers said and not a direct quote. I have tried to remain as accurate as possible, but if you feel like any point has been misrepresented, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Moderator: Diarmid Thomson (DT),
SR: The key to anything is to add value. If you can do that on the client side or the agency side, then you’re doing the right thing.
JFD: I prefer to be on the client side because I can pick what I want. I can pick the agencies and get them to do what I want. I know exactly what I want. [...] I know the vision, I know where I want to go, so I can pick the agency.
JFD: Of course if you work with 65 different vendors, you give a lot of information to a lot of people and it’s hard to have a vision when you’re all over the place. We also like agencies with no “frozen middle”. Whereas some agencies you’re paying for their blue suits, other younger and smaller agencies don’t have the experience and strategy and vision. We like to look for agencies that offer the experience and strategy of the blue suits, and the energy and innovation of the younger agencies. We need new ideas, but don’t forget the strategic layer.
SR: One option is to outsource everything to agencies. Another is to use tools like Acquisio and bring more things in-house. And a third is to use a blend of the two. Where we ended up more was with the agency. But that would not have been feasible if it wasn’t a real partnership. It’s like a marriage, and you need to put in the effort to make it work.
SR: Data for me is useless. What we’re looking for as CMOs is insights. The level of complexity is greater than ever. So what we have to address with agencies is how we’re going to take this level of data and generate actual insights. Once we have that insight, we can disseminate it to different departments and use it to actually increase ROI. In the end, we need better relations with the core system — not just the agency, but the CIO, as well. Part of the complexity is to find people who can analyze this data. So if your teams are working in silos, you only have a fragmented picture of the company and what’s going on.
JFD: Agencies need to change management. A lot of times, when I do hire agencies, they come up with sketches of solutions, but they can’t address how to implement within our organization. So agencies need to push it a little further and gain expertise on how to hire, train and fire people so that new solutions can actually be implemented. And at this point, a lot of agencies are not ready to do that.
SR: On the agency side, you are exposed to many campaigns and many clients. Agencies need to show clients how the clients can benefit from that experience. We don’t just want insights from our account, but other accounts, as well. Many agencies work in silos, so when you’re working with them, you don’t get to benefit from the experiences of the teams in the agencies that are working on other accounts and other sectors.
JFD: In the beginning, don’t talk to me about ROI. The only relevant question is “can you afford not to be there?”
JFD: First comes business needs. Then the question is how the CIO can support that. Finally, the CFO determines whether it’s affordable. From there, you can prioritize your business needs and go after the ones that are most indispensable.
SR: You need flexibility, and if you rely on your IT team to implement social media, you will not get it done in time. So some things make sense to build in-house, but there’s a value there that agencies can offer in terms of insight and deployment of social media tools. For example, there are still some dinosaur platforms out there, and you need to get the data and disseminate it other sectors of you business.