How Agencies Can Leverage Education to Become the Best Consultative Partners

October 10, 2016 — by MediaMath    

“The agency of the future is going to be full of consultants. They will be strategic thinkers and bring new technologies and approaches to their clients. When you’re not always in the weeds, you can think more strategically—and that’s why agencies will always be around. We’re doing this and finding ourselves in that consultative role, which allows us to be proactive instead of reactive.”— said Matt Nespoli, Digital Media Supervisor at our partner Butler/Till in Evolving Your Agency Partnership Model to Drive Programmatic Success

For agencies to take on that increasingly consultative role in the ever-changing pace of our current marketing landscape, they must foster a culture of continual learning. Agencies have a real chance right now to step up to the plate and guide terminology, processes and strategy—but education is a critical piece. Agencies can turn to their technology partners for educational support in a number of ways.

Disseminating the right information

No one who is part of the agency-brand-tech provider partnership can operate in a silo. Working in silos breeds a culture of hereditary information being passed down. The problem here is that this type of information-sharing doesn’t allow for new technologies and processes to be introduced into the organisation. Best practices are only best for so long. Allowing in new insights and expertise, from both internal and external resources, is critical for the agency to stay on tops of its game.  Consider getting your partners in to speak, invest in training courses that might be available through your partners and encourage team members to attend outside events and conferences.

It’s also important to note that your consultants need to understand all areas of the business and how technology can amplify the work you are already doing in a cross-functional way. Programmatic creative strategy is one example of an area that can be buoyed with the right application of technology and that will only really succeed when silos are broken.

Educating the entire agency, from the top down

It’s not just about the traders. The executive team, the creative team, back office, front-of-house—they all benefit from a solid baseline of programmatic knowledge. Everyone should know what a client KPI means and the different strategies available to achieve it and measure it. That said, it’s also about meeting the learner where they are. Look for a technology partner that can adapt and customise training materials and courses based on language, cultural and learning needs and partner on a global, ongoing level. Some technology partners will also certify in-house staff and agency practitioners through a rigorous curriculum of functional and technical training

Educating from the top down is one approach that can be super impactful, as leadership can serve as executive sponsors that take responsibility for ensuring employees have the technological skills they need. Capturing the C-suite audience is imperative to true adoption of not only processes and methodologies, but also to successful shifts in organisational behaviour and best practice. They can lead by example by enthusiastically adopting technology and digital skills and fostering ongoing learning.

Recently, we were approached by one of the big six holding companies, who were already spending a large amount of budget in our TerminalOne platform and understood that the future is programmatic. A good portion of their staff was educated in the latest tools and technologies, but the agency recognised that unless they were truly 100-percent programmatic and had everyone speaking the same language, they would not be able to continue to scale the way they needed to. They took the top-down approach and congregated a group of their most senior leaders in client-facing roles, stripped back to the basics and taught them methodologies they could use with their clients and also take to their teams.

Having a common language

There is critical value in having similar terminology and ways of explaining data and information so that everyone who is touching the brand works in lock-step. What do the words you throw around mean for client outcomes? Your technology partners might even have glossaries that help keep a handle on all the new acronyms and terms that emerge.

You can also use your learnings to educate your partners about what brands want. Are there certain technologies that are becoming obsolete and others that brands would like to customise for their own needs? You can use this approach to two-way education to build an even stronger partnership with your technology allies.

[author type=”registered” username=”Frith Farmar”]

[author type=”registered” username=”Debbie Taylor”]