CMO’s need their client-agency relationships to improve rapidly

With an average tenure of just 3.3 years CMO’s need to be sure their agency relationships can improve rapidly under their watch.

Rapid improvement in client-agency relationship.
The need for speed

The tenure quoted above is courtesy of a survey by Spencer Stuart conducted among the top 100 advertisers in the USA. Transition times in and out of the role further compress this time-frame to a narrow window of opportunity – approximately 24–28 months – for CMO’s to enact meaningful change.

Simply put, CMO’s are under immense time-pressure to demonstrate their tangible impact.

Taking a particularly mercenary view, there’s little point for the career executive to begin an initiative if that action will not achieve meaningful results within their tenure. Ensuring optimum performance from their agency is certainly a career-enhancing strategy but only if improvements can be achieved rapidly.

Improvements in 18-months

With this in mind we set out to determine what kind of change a formal client-agency evaluation process can deliver within 18-months.

The results are revealed in our report titled ‘From start to stardom’. The report explains how to fast-track agency value enhancement in a positive and proactive way. Through regular, disciplined performance evaluations to identify opportunities for improvement and action plans to address them.

How to get rapid improvements in performance from your agency
Click to download the report PDF

Our analysis, based on thousands of client-agency relationship evaluations, reveals the transformative power of these evaluations. By delivering clear, actionable insights, they not only enhance value delivery from agencies but also yield substantial benefits for marketer teams.

Unlocking the value

While traditional methods like ‘pitch ‘n switch’ may offer apparent solutions, the monetary expense, resource drain and disruption they create urge a reevaluation of their efficacy.

According to the ANA/4A’s report ‘The cost of the pitch’ marketers in the US spend an average of $400,000 on an agency pitch – taking into account hourly costs, staffing changes, disruption/delays, external consultants and compensation to the agency. Just like marriage, it’s better to repair than divorce.

Navigating regional dynamics

It’s wrong to assume that client-agency relationships are viewed similarly across the world. For example we find that teams in the Americas consistently score each other higher in evaluations than teams in other regions. This phenomenon may be attributed to cultural biases favoring extroversion. The point is that regional nuances are important to consider when reviewing multinational business teams effectively.

Driving improvement across agency types

Just as caution should be applied to regional generalisations, the same is true with different agency types as illustrated in the chart below.

While improvements are evident in the18-month period across all agency types, the degree of improvement differs a lot between agency types.

How teams respond

Our report also reveals how teams respond to formal evaluations within the 18-month window in terms of specific job functions and behaviours. By identifying and comparing characteristics of the best and weakest-performing teams, we can how each of these factors respond.

We found that ‘communication’ emerges as a linchpin behavior. Another key behaviour craved both by marketer clients and their agencies is the willingness to challenge the status quo. It distinguishes top-performing teams, empowering both clients and agencies to drive innovation.

A strategy for rapid improvement

In the realm of marketing communications, where people are the most valuable asset, managing and motivating teams for performance is paramount. CMO’s need to be sure their teams are optimised for performance and they need to see rapid improvements. By leveraging the transformative power of regular formal performance evaluations, marketers and agencies can unlock the full potential of their relationships, driving value, innovation, and lasting success.