The first day of Goafest 2016 saw industry stalwarts from the client side speak on ‘What agencies can do better’, a highly relevant topic considering the fragmented nature of today’s agency ecosystem and mounting pressure of business conditions that are changing rapidly.
Oliver Maletz, Head of Connections Planning, Media and International Communication at Volkswagen, AG, was one of the speakers and he reiterated the importance of adapting to the changing business conditions throughout his presentation. “Deliver a meaningful value to a meaningful number of people” was his constant refrain to the audience as well as agency partners. He called the current era an “age of collaboration” and noted that agencies have the necessary resources, especially the youth who will come up with disruptive innovations.
“Put egos and P&L aside. If our business grows so will yours. With the devices available today there are so many opportunities,” he said.
However, he also cautioned against falling into the trap of innovations that are just done for the sake of being ‘innovative’. On the topic of innovation and risks, he said, “You have to come up to us and get the risk substantiated. We (clients) are ready to take risks but you need to give us substantial business cases along with facts and figures. We also have to sell it up the food chain. If it does not move KPI and the business model then it has no value.”
Maletz gave an example from the past when a supposed rule was that a good client would never get fired for running a TV ad. “Today, you might,” he pointed out. Giving another example about the importance of innovating responsibly, he spoke of Henry Ford. “He (Henry Ford) said, “If I wanted to give people what they wanted I would have got them a faster horse.” People did not know they needed a car,” he said, admitting that it is not always necessary to just give customers what they want.
One point that he urged agencies to consider was to stop selling ideas to clients. “If you have a good idea, prove it to us. It has to work to our P&L. This builds trust. The more you try to sell us services we don’t need, the more there is loss of trust. The more you make meaningful ideas, you earn our respect,” he said.
Giving the example of marketing in the 50’s, he noted that in that era, marketing was all about selling a product but the world has moved away from it.
“Clients want business partners. There are so many types of agencies out there with so much talent constantly thinking about us; more than we do ourselves. If you keep the business partnership mindset in place, the rest (processes, trust, etc.) will fall into place,” he signed off.