At New Narrative we’re increasingly being asked to write about sustainability as businesses improve their efforts in the area and recognise the importance of sharing best practices. But even though the concept has been around for some time, the ideas and objectives are constantly evolving as governments, NGOs, companies and consumers become better educated on the issues and demand more action. We take an in-depth look at some of the newer ideas that are at the forefront of conversations.
It’s well known that many of the manufacturing processes we rely on today create a lot of waste, generate high carbon emissions and are dependent on resources that will one day run out. This traditional approach to manufacturing – ‘make, use, dispose’ – is what is now coined the linear economy. In contrast, the circular economy is an attempt to cut waste, reduce carbon footprint and better manage the resources linked to manufacturing.
The idea of the circular economy goes much further than recycling products at the end of their life. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization says the circular economy “works by extending product lifespan through improved design and servicing, and relocating waste from the end of the supply chain to the beginning—in effect, using resources more efficiently by using them over and over, not only once.”
It’s worth noting that the language around the circular economy does not tend to focus on less consumption. It recognises that modern innovations have given people access to goods at affordable prices and that it will be difficult to ask consumers to give up innovations that improve lives. Instead, the circular economy is about getting companies to rethink the way products are designed and created so that any waste can re-enter the value chain and be used as a raw material for the next product cycle.
As well as the environmental benefits of reducing waste and reusing materials, the new system is expected to support economic growth and help governments tackle many of the social and health issues they are facing. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates the circular economy will produce a 48% reduction in global carbon emissions by 2030 and deliver a 47% reduction in traffic congestion in Chinese cities, among other benefits. And with the world facing a shortage of resources, companies that rely heavily on raw materials will eventually need to look for alternatives whether they subscribe to the idea of the circular economy or not.
The blue economy is about using oceans in a more sustainable way that supports economic growth and social development, and also protects their delicate ecosystem. The health of the ocean is closely related to efforts to stop climate change given that the ocean supplies around 50% of the planet’s oxygen and absorbs about 30% of the world’s carbon dioxide. At the same time, the ocean also plays a key role in the world’s economic growth: it is a source of transport for 80% of global trade, and by 2030 the ocean economy is expected to employ around 40 million people and add some US$3 trillion in value to the global economy.
The Paris Agreement was seen as a landmark event in the effort to tackle the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Some 195 countries, including China, the European Union and the United States (though the US has since withdrawn) agreed to limit the rise in average global temperatures this century to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C.” However, despite the intentions, scientific evidence from the United Nations makes clear that countries are not yet doing enough to reach that goal.
Science-based targets are an attempt to close that ‘emissions gap’. Focusing on the corporate sector rather than governments under the scheme companies set targets that can be shown to be in line with the level of decarbonisation required to keep global temperature increase below the 2°C threshold based on the latest climate science.
The Science Based Targets Initiative is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). According to the Initiative’s latest statistics, more than 500 companies have committed to or implemented science-based targets. The arguments in favour of companies adopting science-based targets include increased regulatory resistance as governments increasingly look to regulate for climate change policies, strengthened investor confidence, and improved competitiveness and profitability.
Although the term was coined in 2007 (and this method of putting capital to work has been around for much longer), it’s only in the last few years that the concept of impact investing has come to wider prominence. Put simply, impact investing is providing capital to businesses that have a measurable social or environmental impact.
In its early stages impact investing was largely the preserve of private equity funds given that it requires direct investment and the ability to accurately assess companies and measure their outcomes. But in the last few years it has started to attract the attention of a broader set of investors such as hedge funds and asset managers. In part this broader interest has been driven by the launch in 2016 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which clearly set out 17 areas of focus to end poverty and protect the planet.
In addition, investors are recognising that impact investing does not necessarily mean sacrificing returns. Indeed, many funds are ‘return-first’ – they are driven by generating a competitive financial return by investing in companies that create an impact. In contrast ‘impact-first’ funds will accept below-market returns.
Not a week goes by
when some of the New Narrative content team isn’t writing about fintech. So we
know how tricky it can be to keep up with all the lingo and understand what new
terms mean. With that in mind we’ve put together a fintech jargon buster that
explains some of the ideas that are most discussed but often least well
understood — such as blockchain, opening banking and initial coin offerings — while
also examining some of the current discussions and developments around each
This may seem a
strange term to use about regulation, but it’s actually a helpful metaphor. A
child’s sandbox creates a defined, safe space to play in, while a fintech
sandbox provides allows companies to test out new technology and services under
a controlled but more relaxed regulatory environment. Regulators have been keen
to set up fintech sandboxes to promote innovation in financial services while also
giving innovators the chance to figure out any regulatory issues that might
arise. It’s also a way for regulators to ensure that they keep-up-to-date with the
technological changes which are likely to affect future rules.
For firms, the
advantage is usually that they get a chance to test their services using real
market data and information, while being in dialogue with the regulator. It
should mean their service is quicker to market and has a better chance of
success. In Asia-Pacific, countries with a fintech sandbox include Australia,
Kong Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Open banking describes
the process by which banks share data with third parties with the aim of
improving the financial services and products available to customers. In many
countries, such as Australia, Hong Kong and UK, banking services are dominated
by a few major institutions which can limit choice and competition. The idea is
that open banking solves this problem by getting banks to share their data with
non-banks, which are then in a stronger position to launch new products.
Many banks are
embracing open banking and creating platforms for third-party developers to
offer new innovations to their existing customer base. In that way a bank can
be seen to be offering the best range of products and services while also
retaining the customer relationship. For customers — business and retail — some
of the oft-discussed benefits include having a single application that contains
information from multiple bank accounts in one place, easier switching between
bank providers, and quicker payment methods.
The sharing of data is usually achieved through an application programme interface (API), essentially a way for two systems to communicate with each other and share data. In some publications the term API is used interchangeably with open banking, even though this is not strictly correct. APIs are also not a new technology — well-known examples include Google giving access to its Maps data to use in the Uber app, or a flight search website communicating with airline websites to provide a list of flight options — but the term has come to greater public prominence with the push towards open banking.
This has been one of
the most discussed themes in wealth management over the last few years. While
the name conjures images of androids telling people which funds to buy, it is
probably more accurate to speak of greater automation of wealth advisory
services. In most cases this means using algorithms and artificial intelligence
to guide clients to the best investments through a series of questions and
options (a process that also in theory makes it easier to work backwards from
desired outcome to optimal investment strategy). For now, it is rare for
robo-advisors not to be used in conjunction with some level of human input.
The advantages for
both the wealth manager and the client are that robo-advisors are more
cost-effective than humans alone, and can often provide better outcomes as they
are capable of crunching more data. But like any automation technology, it is
only as good as the information that supports it, and the algorithms that
provide potential solutions.
It can be easy to
get terms Blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) confused as they
are often used interchangeably. Blockchain is the most well-known example of a
type of DLT. Part of the reason it is so high profile is because it is the
technology behind Bitcoin.
Blockchain works by
allowing users to enter information — a stock trade for example — into
encrypted electronic blocks known as ledgers, with everybody in the chain
receiving updated information at the same time, which speeds up transaction
processing. This means there is no central database or record, and once
information is entered it is immutable. This is why is it often viewed as a way
to reduce fraud and prevent cyberattacks in financial transactions — you will
often hear people talk about ‘a single source of truth’.
services, most of the focus has been on so-called private or
enterprise blockchains. These are blockchains that are only open to
participants that are invited to be part of the platform. The underlying
technology remains the same but they tend to be limited to regulated
institutions and be more structured than public blockchains.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICO)
ICOs are a way for companies to raise funds for projects. They are often likened to initial public offerings (IPOs) and while they do have some similarities, there are some key differences including the fact that ICOs are not issued on a regulated exchange and do not have the same investor protections. ICOs can also be sold directly to investors without the requirement to go through a licenced intermediary.
So how does an ICO
work? A company that wants to launch a new product or service will publish a
whitepaper that explains the project and how it plans to use the funds from the
ICO. The company will then issue and sell a set amount of crypto-tokens to
investors, much like the shares a company issues during an IPO. The capital
raised is used to fund the new product or service, and investors look to make
returns from the rise in the value of the token. Like shares, the value of
tokens can fall as well as rise.
In most countries,
ICOs operate in a regulatory grey area. The sharp growth in ICOs (see chart),
means regulators are taking a closer look at the instrument. Some countries,
Korea and China, have banned
ICOs, and the sector is likely to face
stricter oversight in major markets in the future. The
crypto-industry is also trying to meet the challenge presented by greater
regulatory oversight by evolving the product. One potential answer is Security
Token Offerings (see below).
For more on ICOs, check out the excellent Investopedia page.
Security Token Offerings (STO)
Offerings are a response from the crypto-industry to the need for a better
regulated method of fundraising. Unlike ICOs, STOS are classified as securities
(at least by the US Securities and Exchange Commission; China
has already banned the instrument) and so must adhere to securities
regulations. This means they offer more investor protection but correspondingly
are more expensive for companies wishing to issue them.
As well as being
regulated, STOs can be and are often backed by a tangible asset such as bonds,
stocks or property. By ‘tokenizing’ these assets, they can be traded using
distributed ledger technology (see blockchain section above).
Stuck in a marketing conference or planning meeting? Fed up of hearing the same buzzwords and platitudes? Then you need the New Narrative B2B Marketing Bingo card. It might not be a ‘game changer’ or make you more ‘agile’ but at least you can reward yourself the next time you hear that ‘content is king’.
It’s been just over one year since I ended my 15-year financial journalism career to enter the content marketing industry. Plenty of former colleagues are surprised when I say I have not once regretted making the move, but I’m willing to admit that the transition has not always been easy. So for those of you thinking of making the jump from journalism into content marketing, here’s what I’ve learnt along the way.
You know more than you think
As journalists, we spend our days gathering information — from research, interviews, events and so on — that can often be complex and technical in nature and then sifting through that information to turn it into a clear and compelling piece of writing. The result is that we often underrate how rare and valuable that set of skills is.
But since moving into content marketing, I’ve realised that the ability to interview someone, take that information and turn it into something that people want to read is a specialist skill: one that’s hard to come by and one that companies view as valuable. Add in the ability to meet deadlines, juggle multiple projects and build a rapport with people (especially with those who aren’t comfortable being interviewed), and those skills that seem normal in the newsroom become something that marks you out as an expert.
You know less than you think
Expert journalist you may be, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have lots to learn. Certainly for me, with a background in fast-paced financial trade publications, content marketing required me to adjust my writing style: less focused on getting down the facts and more focused on the narrative (hence our name!)
Plus, before this job I’d never written video scripts, put together an infographic concept, written a sales proposal or closed a deal (maybe less relevant if you take on an inhouse job or a less senior agency role), all of which required me to learn new skills.
And as with a move to any new industry, I’ve had to wade my way through a new set of jargon with all the bewilderment that entails. Pet peeves include ideation, marketing funnels, and omnichannel.
In addition, the dynamics of writing as a service provider rather than an independent journalist are very different, which brings me onto my next point…
It’s fun on the dark side
There’s no getting away from it: writing for an agency on behalf of a client can be quite different from being a journalist. I know it’s an area that many journalists struggle with when they change to the so-called ‘dark side’.
As a service provider, some of the autonomy you enjoy as a journalist is gone. That said, most clients understand that content marketing should be about sharing their insights and expertise and not about pushing a corporate message. The result is that I still get access to the top experts in their respective industries and to distil their insights into a piece of content I can be proud of. And as a consultancy, an important part of our role is advising clients on the best strategy for their content, and that inevitably means ensuring that a piece of written or visual content delivers market intelligence rather than a corporate message, ultimately helping the client reach their audience more effectively.
Have I had to write pieces of puff that are more advertising than thought leadership? Yes, for some stubborn marketers who don’t get it (and refuse to listen to the experts!) and no doubt I will have to again, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.
Variety really is the spice of life
Content marketing has given me the opportunity to write on a greater breadth of topics than I ever did as a journalist. Even with New Narrative’s focus on finance and professional services, in the last 12 months I have written on subjects that include blockchain, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, ESG, digital payments, family offices, healthcare technology and even K-pop.
The formats have ranged from white papers and blogs to videos, infographics and social media. And for each client you have to strike the right tone, complexity and message for their brand and their target audience. The result is that I am a sharper and more confident writer than before.
So what are my key tips for journalists wanting to make a move into content marketing?
Go for it! It’s a great career
Don’t forget the basics: journalists have all the skills and more needed for content marketing
Be prepared to have to rethink the way you approach writing (and to not get it right straight away)
By-lines and scoops will be a thing of the past. You will need to get used to seeing your work assigned to someone else
Finally, expect journalist friends to be amazed (and a little bit jealous) that you are enjoying yourself!
New Narrative, Asia’s leading content consultancy, is looking for the newest addition to its editorial team. Full job details are below. Interested parties, please email a CV, cover letter and two examples of your writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the role
We are looking for a dynamic and ambitious content creator who will work to deliver written, visual and digital content across a variety of media, for a range of blue-chip clients.
As a core member of a dynamic and fast-growing editorial team you will be responsible for researching and producing top-quality content, from articles to infographic concepts to social media copy.
The appeal of the job lies in its constant variety: no two client briefs are alike. One week you might be researching a blog series on blockchain; the next you could be crafting tweets live from an asset management seminar in Shanghai; the next developing a social media strategy for ground-breaking European healthcare research.
This is the ideal role for an ambitious self-starter keen to develop their content creation skills in the new territory emerging between media and marketing.
About New Narrative
From our offices in Hong Kong and New York, New Narrative creates agenda-setting content campaigns on behalf of the world’s biggest companies in diverse sectors, from financial services to technology to healthcare.
Our clients rely on our unwavering dedication to editorial quality and our deep understanding of their businesses – and what resonates with their target audiences – to help them publish world-class research and thought leadership.
New Narrative’s management team has decades of experience in senior editorial roles in leading international media organisations. By joining our team you will get the chance to learn rapidly and work on high-profile campaigns in a fast-growing, vibrant and welcoming environment.
The successful candidate should have:
• Experience or demonstrated interest in a journalism, marketing or research role, ideally with a focus on financial and professional services
• Experience producing content across a range of formats to tight deadlines
• Knowledge of the digital and social media aspects of publishing
• Strong research skills
• Impeccable English language skills; other languages (particularly Cantonese and Mandarin) preferred
What we offer:
• Unmatched opportunities for advancement, to develop new skills and to shape the future direction of a dynamic young business at the forefront of the rapidly expanding regional media and content marketing industry
• The opportunity to exercise and showcase your creativity on high-visibility projects for industry-leading clients
• A highly competitive salary to the right candidate, along with benefits such as a company medical plan and paid holidays
• The chance to be part of and learn from a diverse and global team of professionals with decades of combined experience in journalism, digital media and publishing
• A flexible, progressive environment where work-life balance is a priority
Content marketing remains a nascent, if growing, industry in Asia so it’s always great to have to chance to hear the opinions of other professionals working in this area. That was one of the pleasures of a recent panel discussion I attended in Hong Kong (as well as the complimentary wine…) In addition to providing plenty of insight, it brought into sharp relief some of the miscommunication common between marketing teams and the agencies that serve them.
So in the interests of bringing greater harmony to Asia’s content market industry, here are some of the main talking points from the night and New Narrative’s assessment.
Budget or no budget in the brief?
This question produced the biggest divergence in opinion on the night. The agencies speaking at the event felt very strongly that clients needed to provide a budget when commissioning a project. If not a precise figure, then they needed at least to give a range or upper limit to give some sense about what the agency should be aiming for.
Marketers, though, were quite opposed to the idea. In part, this was borne out of their previous experience of agencies far exceeding the budget limits given to them. It also came from a feeling that agencies would inevitably pitch a solution that used up the whole budget regardless of whether it was justified.
New Narrative’s take: While an unscrupulous agency might be looking to squeeze their clients dry at every opportunity, the best ones are trying to build long-term, strategic partnerships. As part of that, they want to understand a client’s needs — and that includes budget. Having a budget allows agencies to recommend the correct mix of content at a price the client can bear. Otherwise they are left guessing, which means their proposals might be rejected multiple times before they meet a client’s requirements, leading to frustration all round.
Clients need to trust agencies to come up with the right solution at the right price. Likewise, if a budget is available up front, agencies need to accept that not every project needs to max it out to succeed. Of course, trust on both sides needs to be earned!
Information vs instruction
How much detail is the right amount for a project brief? A lively discussion on this was prompted by a question from the audience. For the agencies, it was felt that having as much information as possible about the context for the campaign meant they were able to present better ideas to the client.
More information doesn’t necessarily mean more instruction, though. Marketers and agencies agreed the key was for a client not to be too prescriptive in which ideas could be put forward. In addition, both sides viewed the process as one of evolution, where ideas can be discussed, adapted and revised until the best outcome is reached.
New Narrative’s take: Generally speaking more information is better, but let our creative juices flow! That’s what you’re paying for, after all. On top of that, we always advise clients not to view a proposal as the final say, but rather as the beginning of the conversation. As a strategic partner, we understand a client’s need for a flexible and collaborative approach and it’s also how we prefer to work.
Trust me, I’m an expert
Finally, during a discussion about pet peeves, one frustration clearly voiced by agencies was not being treated like the expert. This was less about ego and more about asking clients to recognise they had hired an agency for its expertise (and, as mentioned, its creative talents), and should listen to the offered advice rather than force through bad decisions that weaken rather than strengthen campaigns.
The marketers took this on board but didn’t look happy!
New Narrative’s take: This is one of the biggest challenges for agencies and marketers. At New Narrative, we always advise clients on what we think is the best course of action and will be clear if we think a decision will undermine the project objectives. This is especially crucial when it comes to creating a credible editorial voice, an issue content marketing (as opposed to plain old marketing) always has to grapple with.
But we also understand that marketers have internal relationships and pressures to manage that sometimes no amount of good advice can overcome. And we are always willing to help marketers craft a convincing argument to use with internal stakeholders to get the best outcome.
2017 was a year of expansion for New Narrative with the launch of our New York office and three new team members in Hong Kong. And we’re continuing this growth into 2018. We are pleased to be hiring for a talented financial writer and editor to join our team. Full job details are below. Interested parties, please email a CV, cover letter and two examples of your writing to email@example.com.
New Narrative, Asia’s leading financial and professional services content marketing agency, is expanding and looking for a talented financial writer and editor to join its growing team in Hong Kong.
From our offices in Hong Kong and New York, New Narrative delivers compelling content to the world’s leading banks, asset managers, law firms, fintech companies, consultants and others. Our clients rely on our unwavering dedication to editorial quality and our deep understanding of their businesses–and what resonates with their target audiences–to help them publish world-class research and thought leadership.
New Narrative’s management team has decades of experience in senior editorial roles in leading international media organisations, reporting on major events and producing commentary and analysis for an audience of senior decision-makers in the financial and professional services sectors.
Role: Editor, Financial Services
The company is looking for a dynamic and ambitious writer and editor to create content across a range of media for discerning and demanding clients. The role calls for a motivated and confident writer and editor with experience of covering financial markets, and the ambition to show what they can do at a young and fast-growing company in a new and rapidly evolving industry.
As Editor you will be responsible for producing content on a range of topics, in a range of formats, and to a range of deadlines. One week you might be writing a blog series on blockchain; the next you could be crafting tweets live from an asset management seminar in Shanghai; the next setting down to write the agenda for an event on the economics of the Belt & Road Initiative. The appeal of the job lies in its constant variety: no two client briefs are alike!
Skills and Experience Required
The successful candidate should have:
— A minimum of three years’ experience in an editorial role at a major publishing business
— Experience producing high-quality content across a range of formats, including long- and short-form written content, infographics, video and other digital formats (NB: we are looking for editorial quality; graphic design and video production skills are not required)
— Experience writing about the financial and professional services sectors for audiences of senior executives (samples of both unedited and published work will be required)
— Knowledge of the traditional, new and social media communications strategies of financial and professional services firms
— Impeccable written English skills and a commitment to editorial quality in everything you do, from text messages to tweets to treatises
— A network of contacts among marketing and communications decision-makers in these industries would be a distinct advantage
— The right to work in Hong Kong
— The willingness to travel overseas for work
The role offers a generous base salary, based on experience.
Other benefits include medical insurance, paid holidays and a company mobile phone.
Why work at n/n?
New Narrative offers a progressive working environment. While the hours don’t always fit easily into 9-5, we actively pursue a policy of work-life balance for all staff.
As a small but fast-growing company in a nascent industry in Asia, we offer unmatched opportunities for advancement. The right candidate can help shape the future direction of our business and the region’s content marketing industry.
There are reams of material written about the importance of content marketing for brand development. Unfortunately, most of it is not aimed at the people that need the most convincing.
These days most marketing professionals are alive to the advantages of thought leadership, but at New Narrative we have plenty of conversations with clients who have to work hard to convince ‘the business’ that it’s worth their time and effort.
This is especially true in financial and professional services, where support functions such as marketing and communications can be seen by front-line staff as a cost centre.
It’s quite common to hear reports of marketers being told by fee-earners that they resent having to spend time on something they don’t see as contributing directly to the bottom line. In some ways this isn’t surprising, as the fee-earners’ performance is measured in financial terms. But it’s also a mindset that has to change if a custom content plan is going to succeed.
To help, we have compiled our top tips for marketers looking to win over the cynics:
Engage early and often
One of the regular complaints we hear from finance professionals is that the marketing team only reaches out to them when there’s a deadline approaching and they are expected to drop everything to write an article.
As a marketer, you will be effective if you involve thought leaders and experts early in developing a content calendar. It’s then important to check in with them regularly to find out the ideas they are talking about with clients. This should help you develop a better relationship with them and should mean last-minute requests are less likely to be met with silence. It will also help improve the marketing team’s industry knowledge, which leads us on to our second point…
Do your research
As former journalists, at New Narrative we understand the importance of research before an interview. All it takes is single comment that shows an ignorance of the subject matter for an interview to go sour. It’s the same when engaging with your thought leaders.
As part of the in-house marketing team you will have a good understanding of the firm’s strategic goals but it’s also important to understand the specific business or practice area of the person you are talking to. This does not necessary mean hours of research, but a few questions based on the latest article in the business press or the most recent piece of research on the topic will get you off on the right foot. And it will also help with the third piece of advice…
Nothing is more likely to infuriate your experts than asking them to write something where your topic suggestion is too general. For example, asking for an opinion piece on China will give the impression of a lack of industry knowledge within the marketing team and is also likely be met with a degree of frustration. But asking for something targeted — such as an article on the significance of China opening its financial markets or the impact of a rising renminbi on capital outflows — will encourage greater engagement.
Minimise the workload
Even with the best will in the world, there will be time when your expert will not have the time to generate the content you need by the deadline. But if she can’t spend an hour writing a blog post, maybe she can spare 30 minutes for a phone call? Or 15 minutes putting the main arguments in an e-mail? These can then be used as the basis of an article to be written by the marketing team or content consultants and reviewed by her later.
Use empirical evidence
It always helps to have some statistics up your sleeve to prove a point. This could be in the form of engagement metrics for a previous campaign. Alternatively, there are plenty of surveys on the effectiveness of content marketing. One of New Narrative’s favourites is the recent survey from Edelman and LinkedIn that asked 1,300 business leaders and C-suite executives how they viewed B2B thought leadership. The results include the fact that over 60% of the respondents think thought leadership is one of the best ways to vet an organisation and understand the caliber of its thinking. Armed with stats like that it should be easy to convince even the cynics that producing thought leadership is time well spent.
The news of Anthony Scaramucci’s sacking as White House communications director after only ten days certainly grabbed the attention of us here at New Narrative. The drama at the White House is second only to that in the new series of Game of Thrones (never fear, this article is spoiler free) as we catch up over the morning’s first cup of coffee.
But once the shock had worn off, the discussion turned to the soundness of the move. The ‘Mooch’ may have only been in place for less time than it takes to learn how to spell his name correctly, but after his expletive filled rant in the New Yorker, it was clear this appointment was not a good fit and better to end it sooner than later.
And — tenuous link alert — it’s a lesson that CMOs can learn from.
Here at New Narrative we’ve lost track of the amount of conversations we have with marketers who struggle to make the most of relationships with their external partners and providers, including content agencies. Sometimes they have difficulty accessing the right people or expertise, or are sold a programme or campaign that fails in the execution phase; other times there are fundamental quality issues or the agency struggles to understand their business model or goals.
But despite months, and sometimes years, of wasted time, money and opportunities, there is at times reticence by CMOs to jettison practices, and agencies, that are repeatedly failing to deliver. That may seem a surprise when so much is at stake but inertia is not just limited to the customer experience – it’s a powerful force on companies when it comes to managing their marketing and agency relationships.
The reasons are understandable and are the same ones that lead us to put up with bad customer service from banks and mobile providers. Relationships or systems may seem too embedded to move on, or too much hassle to change. But if you’re a CMO it’s important to remember you are a customer, and that agencies and external partners can and should be held to account for the way they interact with you, and what they deliver.
From our perspective, when evaluating content agency relationships here are some of the key questions you should be asking:
Is this a genuine partnership — does the agency view the successes or failures of your content-driven marketing initiatives as their own?
Has the agency taken the time to understand your strategic and commercial goals and craft an overarching programme or narrative that supports those aims?
Does the agency help you navigate challenges and setbacks, whether they come from changes in the market environment or internal processes?
Has the agency helped you build a content pipeline and to keep it on track?
Is the agency producing content you are proud to publish?
If the answer to more than one or two of these questions is ‘no’, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship — either through a ‘reboot’ that reassesses communication processes and goals or targets, or by simply moving on. There are arguably not too many good lessons that can be drawn from the Trump White House, but one is that when someone who’s hired to communicate on your behalf isn’t doing so effectively, inertia is not the answer.