The Power of Independent Agencies with John Harris of WPI

Episode 9 September 12, 2023 00:42:30
The Power of Independent Agencies with John Harris of WPI
The Loop Marketing Podcast
The Power of Independent Agencies with John Harris of WPI

Sep 12 2023 | 00:42:30

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Hosted By

Elise Stieferman

Show Notes

In this episode of The Loop Marketing Podcast, Coegi's SVP of Marketing and Innovation sits down with Worldwide Partners Inc. (WPI) President, John Harris, to discuss the role of the independent agency in a complex marketing landscape, what differentiates a good independent agency from a great one and how your brand will benefit from the flexibility and true strategic partnership you will find outside of the traditional holding company model.

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Coegi is a performance-driven marketing partner for brands and agencies enabled by a best-in-class technology stack to deliver specialized services across digital strategy, programmatic media buying and integrated social media and influencer campaigns.

Learn how Coegi can work with your brand or agency: https://coegipartners.com/services

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About WPI Worldwide Partners, Inc. (WPI) is a global and diversified independent agency network engineered to solve the precise business challenges of today’s marketers and agencies.

Website: https://www.worldwidepartners.com/

John Harris, President of WPI: https://www.linkedin.com/in/netharris/

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Episode Transcript

Ryan Green: Hello everybody. Welcome back to the Loop Marketing Podcast. I'm Ryan Green, the Senior Vice President of Marketing Innovation at Coegi, and I'm honored to be joined by John Harris. He's the president of Worldwide Partners. As a little bit of a background, Coegi just joined Worldwide Partners this year. Worldwide Partners is a group of independent agencies, about 80 agencies worldwide that cover the full gambit of marketing services, from creative, to production, to branding, to media and data services. John has done a spectacular job of bringing together some of the brightest minds, a worldwide of agencies and innovative groups, that are really contributing to some breakthrough marketing and advertising campaigns. It's an honor to join your network and it's an honor to have you today John. So thanks for joining us. John Harris: Ryan, Thank you and we couldn't be happier to have Coegi joining the network. You've been a fabulous edition and really contributing at a very high level. So, officially welcome and looking forward to our conversation. Ryan: Yeah, and it's a pertinent one as so much is changing in marketing even before the pandemic but certainly afterwards. The value of truly collaborative partners to brands I think, the lens of that has changed, at least the 10 years that I've been at Coei, but certainly recently too. Independents have an interesting strategic advantage in a lot of situations to be able to really integrate with the business goals of the brands that we're representing and to bring forth the right tools and the right people to cut through a lot of the red tape, to be more quick and nimble. We've found that, you know, in spades, in the partnerships that we've formed with worldwide Partners agencies. But I'd love to hear more about the background, about the genesis of your involvement with Worldwide Partners. What ultimately led you to found the network? What's your background? Talk about that a little. John: Sure, well, I'll start way back when, but I'll be brief because I'm not sure everybody wants to hear my whole history. I first started in marketing working for a radio station in Houston, Texas as the station mascot. So if you think those big old wooden radios that were rounded at the top. The mascot was called the Runaway Radio, but this was the eighties, so it wasn't a wooden radio costume. It was a red one with a lightning bolt on the top and a slit over my head and had white tights and big red shoes, and had no peripheral vision in this costume. Ryan: I’m disappointed that you did not wear that today for the podcast. John: Yeah, well, I thought about it, but my job was to go to station events and interact and dance with the listeners. So we would do a broadcast on a Saturday morning at a McDonald's. We were promoting McDonald'sbreakfast and meals. I would go there and interact and they'd do a live broadcast. At the time local radio station celebrities, I mean, jocks were the celebrities, so people wanted to see them. So we'd have 500 people show up while we were doing a live broadcast and at lunchtime we would go to a car dealership and broadcast from there, and another 500 people would show up, and 300 of them were at breakfast with us. Then that evening we did something in a nightclub and broadcast, and another 600 people showed up, and 300 of 'em were at the car dealership. So I was just fascinated by a brand's ability to literally move people from face-to-face and I think that's where I first got my bug for this very early on. Then I went to work for a beer distributorship and drove a keg truck and, and made displays and interacted with the retailers and had a really good understanding of the importance of the frontline and what really happens at the channel level. I first got into the agency business working for Wonderman at a holding company, then sports marketing for Miller Brewing Company, moved to Colorado to start at an independent agency that was actually a reverse trend of what we're seeing now, which was cores taking their in-house marketing team and then outsourcing it. So a new agency was set up and they recruited us from around the country that had beer experience. Came there and was fortunate enough to work on Coores and Proctor and Gamble and McDonald's, Luma’s client side, at a fast cashflow restaurant chain called Smashburger. Then, I went to the performance marketing space back to the client side as a CMO and then I was on LinkedIn and saw an ad that said Global Advertising Network in Denver, which is where I live. Those words do not end up in the same sentence very often. I explored this and saw that there was an independent agency network out there, which I wasn't familiar with the independent agency network model, and I saw an opportunity to take some of the background that I had at the agency side and at the client side. In both of those, it was really building out service platforms. It was, as a client, I was selecting my performance media agency, I was building a creative team, I was finding the right experiential partner and bringing them together to collaborate, as you talked about earlier. Then on the agency side, building cross-functional teams, cross office teams to service clients. So the opportunity to do it at the global level and do it with independent agencies was just a fascinating opportunity for me. So, now you and I are here seven and a half years later having a conversation. Ryan: That's a great background and I love always working with people that have an orthodox background. So going from a dancing radio, to the head of a global network, it's quite a story. I was a professional poker player before I got into marketing, so, I didn't have to dance as much, but I did have to bob and weave a little bit at the poker tables to get to where I was today. It's interesting. Let's dive in a little bit about independence, right? I think that's the one thing that brings us together. When you hear talk about the value of independence and the partnerships we bring, maybe to somebody who for the first time that they're considering, picking an agency at all, or getting out of the holding company and into a realm of new possibilities, how do you talk about the value that independence bring versus either in-house teams or holding company agencies? John: Yeah, I think, what's been an incredible trend of clients moving more and more towards independent agencies. I think we had this moment, I don't know, seven or eight years ago, where you were seeing more independent agencies being invited to pitches that may have typically been the territory of the large holding companies. I think that moment turned into a movement because clients are recognizing that independent agencies can bring a level of agility and speed. You mentioned the collaborative spirit early on and it's really an entrepreneurial spirit, right? These are owners there, these are business leaders who run organizations, who run companies, who are challenged with managing change and managing innovation each and every day. So they come into the relationship thinking business first, but I think ultimately that the fundamental value is in independence, It's in freedom. If you look at a holding company model, these are publicly traded companies. They have an obligation at the end of the day, no matter what, to deliver a positive return for their shareholders. In the independent agency world, you have the freedom to do what's right for the clients. Sometimes that is investing more in a client's business and when we do that as an agency, that's not the client's problem, that's our problem. It's our decision to make because we've had the ability to do it, but it really changes it from a shareholder mindset to a stakeholder mindset. The stakeholders, when you're working with independent agencies, are the clients and you're the client's customers and we invest in our people. I think independent agencies always put senior level talent on the business because, let's face it, clients don't need just arms and legs, they need heads. You're a senior representative on the Coegi team and I'm sure you are working with your clients each and every day. So, having the business leadership, the business mindset, and ensuring you're having the most senior level people working on your business each and every day, is a significant value that independent agencies bring to the table. Also with freedom comes the freedom to challenge. Clients will come to us and they'll say, look, here's what we want you to do. I spent 15 years in the holding company environment, so I come from this experience that the requirement of delivering shareholder return can put you, and I was an account person a bit back on your heels sometimes, because you don't wanna risk losing the account, right? So let's give the client exactly what they want and I think independent agencies will bring the client what they've asked for. They're always gonna say here's really what we think you should do and challenge, not in an argumentative way, but in a collaborative way without the fear of saying, oh my God, if we lose this account, then we're not gonna get our bonuses. I mean, this is, you just have people who bring it every day and come with a business mindset, and they're gonna get it done no matter what it takes. I think that's a very, very, unique value proposition that independent agencies have alone. Clients aren't gonna hire us just because we're independent. At the end of the day, we have to bring those behaviors and demonstrate that we can actually move their business forward. That, at the end of the day, I think is ultimately what clients are looking for. Ryan: Yeah, I'll definitely steal the stakeholders vs. shareholders verbiage. John: It's yours. Ryan: Appreciate it. That's really significant too because a lot of times it is the owners that are still involved with creating the strategy and pushing our clients forward too. A lot of times I think that's probably pretty obvious with branding creative shops. The work almost speaks for itself, but that's also true with media. There's a legacy thought that media agencies have more buying power and they somehow can squeeze the people at CVS to giving them better rates. so they're coming in with more financial weight to be able to sway decisions in our client's best interest. As an independent media agency that has seen the proliferation of programmatic and automated media buying, I can tell you that that's not true. In fact, the push for shareholders as the primary focus has hidden a lot of fees and a lot of baggage underneath the surface at holding companies that doesn't really exist with independence from the media side. Is that something that you've seen? Or am I just painting a rosy picture of why independent media agencies actually do have a strategic advantage by bringing the client's business first, by bringing senior people not doing the bait and switch from pitch to execution? Is that a trend that you've seen? John: Yeah, absolutely. Well let's tackle it from a couple of fronts. I think on the media front, there is a perception that vigor is better. That this antiquated idea of buying power is what's driving, what is an extremely democratized digital media environment now. I mean, the programmatic tools that either agencies have, in some cases, have built, or have access to, have 100% leveled the playing field. So this is no longer a story of what is your media spend ? Therefore I as a client am gonna get more about more out of that. So I think technology, the platforms, have democratized it. I also think that when you look at the upfront side, even on the digital side of it, holding company agencies are buying this inventory. If you're not their top client, you're not gonna get the best inventory. You're gonna get the remnant, they're gonna sell it no matter what. So they're coming at this with a predisposition towards a certain, existing media inventory that they many times own, that this is what's gonna be best for the client. Then you have the layer of we've taken the best inventory to the clients who spend the most with us, and then the clients that are left over are gonna get what's left. So that doesn't happen in the independent space, right? We go at this and put the value of the relationship with the media publishers over the spend. We have agencies that have all of the same level, including Coegi certifications, access to alphas and betas from these major publishers that the holding companies have and we're not coming in with a pre-packaged solution. You guys are bringing this at a very, very customized level based on what the client needs, not based on what a holding company agency might have to sell. So you're absolutely right. It's no longer the case. Then the bait and switch that you referenced, we were in a pitch yesterday. A global pitch with a major brand I can't share right now. We told them, this isn't the pitch team. This is your team and it was myself and the senior level executives, and these are the people that are working on the business. So, yes, that's what you're gonna get from an independent agency. You know, many times it's the owner, Sean's gonna be in those business decisions working with the clients. So it's a big advantage. Ryan: You know, it's interesting that the holding company has almost become the ad network of when we started buying up all this inventory and divvying it out between their clients. If you're not Coca-Cola, in your down list at, at the hold code, those are the ones who are very vulnerable to the bait and switch. To getting a junior person on their account that switches every six months. Consistency, the turnover, the 30% turnover that happens at holding companies. Not saying that independents are keeping a hundred percent of their employees either, but being able to have more control of the culture within our companies. We put our stakeholders and a lot of times those stakeholders are employees in front of the needs of shareholders. Having that balance is really another calling card of independence, but that's talking about independence as a monolith too. When you look within independence, what are the things that you look for, especially as you're attracting and evaluating independent agencies joining your network? What are the things that you're looking for that differentiate good and great? John: Yep. Let’s kind of take us through, let's start with the customer. Let's start with the CMO and why our value proposition as a network is relevant to the CMO and then how that cascades down to the agencies that join us and what separates good from great. As I said earlier, I was a CMO at a fast casual restaurant chain. This summer I had a chance to spend, at an industry event, some time with about 20 different CMOs. I asked them, I said, let's talk about your world, right? What it's like 'cause I was there and, not surprisingly I guess, a lot of the same challenges may be amplified than when I was a CMO. Change is a constant for CMOs. They were consistently having to innovate, to push the business forward. Resources are limited; we could all use more resources. They articulated that there were some internal gaps in skills that they had with their team that they needed to support with outside partners. There was almost, maybe a level of anxiety around having to consistently prove marketing value. That this is not an expense, but rather it is, it's creating value for the organization overall. That's a matter of driving growth, so this is not an easy job as a CMO. There's a high degree of pressure that comes with it. You are trying to do two things: you are trying to minimize risk and you're trying to maximize impact. So when you talk to the most progressive CMOs, what they're doing is, they're building out these marketing ecosystems. It's around subject matter expertise, so I've got my in-house brand management team. I may have in-house capabilities, whether that might be some media or data management, or in some cases creative, they're working with outside platforms and they are looking at bringing in agency partners. So when they are trying to identify the right agency partners that may manifest itself in an RFP, what they're really doing when they issue an RFP is they're issuing an RFE, which is a request for expertise. Sometimes that expertise is by market, it's by industry vertical, it's by audience, it's by channel, it's by capability. At the end of the day, by surrounding themselves with experts, just go back to the CMOs goal, I kind of minimize risk and I've gotta maximize my impact. So that's how we've engineered the network and that is to be a solution that can meet the very precise needs and business challenges of today's marketers and through one of the largest and most fastest growing independent networks in the world. What makes this proposition unique is that the agencies are 100% committed to collaboration within each other. We've talked about the holding companies, we talked about the fact that they're publicly traded and that they're using acquisition to create scale and diversification to offer clients and deliver value to shareholders. In our model, we're actually set up as a reverse holding company. I didn't found the network, right? I don't own the network. The network was founded 85 years ago which is crazy to think about. So hopefully it shows I'm not the founder, but the agencies actually own the network. My responsibilities are to a board of directors of agency leaders around the globe and we work together to set the goals and the strategies. What happens here is, rather than the network dictating the terms to the agencies, the agencies are actually dictating the terms to the networks. So what that means for clients is you're gonna get everything we talked about; the value of independent agencies and you're gonna get it at scale, you're gonna get some of the top independent agencies in the world. We go back to that expertise. We have experts in 90 different industry verticals, we have everything from performance and digital media agencies, to creative agencies, to experiential agencies, to PR agencies. For those of us who are old enough to remember Duran Duran, we have a sound design agency that was founded by Simon Le bon of Duran Duran that's based in Tokyo, who recently designed the sound of the Fiat Electric car. We just added an agency called Doable, which was founded by two people with disabilities; staffed by people with disabilities to help brands more effectively market to people with disabilities. So let's go back to what CMOs want. They are looking for, I need this in this market with this capability. What we're able to do is when a remit comes in and it says, I need not just a pharma agency, but I need a pharma agency in New Jersey that has child oncology experience and a UX capability, and med tech capabilities, I could say, yes, we have that. So we've rounded this group out. Yes, that may sound like a holding company, but what's fundamentally different is we have not acquired all of these agencies and said, you guys come together, push clients between each other’s offices, cross sell services and make our shareholders all this money. These agencies are working together because they've chosen to work together, not because they have to work together. That element of opting in is the only incentive that they need to work together, because every agency has made a personal commitment that I wanna be a part of this and I'm gonna treat my clients just like they’re your clients, just like they’re my clients. So we are looking for the best independent agencies in the world who are adding to our story and are allowing us to deliver the level of precision and solution that our clients are wanting for. We're gonna give you everything you need and nothing that you don't, right? We're not here to oversell. So, that's kind of how we've shaped the network proposition. 84 agencies in 46 countries, 40 of them are full service, 12 media, 6 creative, and 26 specialist agencies. So, we hope that math adds up. That's kind of how we've shaped the network and the value proposition. Ryan: The brilliance of it is thinking and really tapping into what the CMO needs. You talked about, they're trying to build an ecosystem and you've built an ecosystem essentially that can cover all of those CMOs needs and being able to pick the three needs that they have to fit their ecosystem. Not the 14 needs that they don't need that come along with a holding company ecosystem that is forced upon them, right? Everything becomes customized to what their brand, their business needs, what they need to get. Even the title Chief Marketing Officer, I think, is under siege a little bit. There's Chief Growth officers, chief revenue officers that you're seeing more. I've been to a couple of the ANA conferences that have chief media officers that are separate from the chief Marketing Officer. There's always the friction between finance and the CFOs wanting to have an ROI calculation for every single breath that the CMO takes. So being able to sit and understand where they're coming from, where their challenges are, and what their customer's challenges are too, to go another layer deeper. We're able to do that and I'm so thankful to be part of Worldwide Partners 'cause I'm smarter now as a marketer. Because of the collective experience that I've gotten from working with such a great ecosystem of agencies that you've built. John: If I might build on something that you said when you were talking about the evolution of the title of CMO. Chief Growth Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, Chief Product Officer, Chief Commercial Officer, it all comes back to what I talked about earlier of the requirement of demonstrating value. When I, and I don't wanna make this about I, but I think it's important for us to all understand this context. When I became a CMO I was thrilled. I was invigorated because having been on the agency side for 15 years, where you are consistently trying to uncover the right insight and bringing forth strategies, and putting forth recommendations, and wrapping this up and what you think is a brilliantly crafted deck, and making the recommendation to the client, now I was gonna be on the other side of the table. I was gonna get to make the call, right? It was on me. So I went into the role thinking that now I'm going to be able to work on the brand of the business and make the decision. But the reality of it is, 95% of that CMOs job or chief growth offers job, or whatever you wanna call it, has absolutely nothing to do with media and with making decisions on creative campaigns. It is a marketing operations role. It is managing through a matrix organization. It is, looking and understanding the impact of adding a different label to one sweater and the cost implications of that on EBITDA. It is doing menu board optimization and understanding what's more profitable. Do we do a free drink with a burger or a free fried egg with a burger? You are forecasting out the operational component of the marketing implications. So when you think about it, if agencies are not focusing on the 95% of what the CMOs job is, you are nothing but a commoditized resource. If you're only focused on delivering the 5% of their role, then you are replaceable. Not to get ahead of, one of our questions I know we're gonna explore is, what makes a good independent agency to go to independent agency. The great independent agencies are saying, I need to be up here in this 95% helping and adding value to my client's job there. Not just in the, just purely in the media and the creative side of it. Ryan: Before I get to that question, one other thing that popped up is, from you describing needing to decide if it's what kind of tag is uninsured or which promotion is gonna be more profitable, you're implying that a lot of the CMOs role is staring at spreadsheets, right? At math and quantitative, and I feel like a lot of marketers came from a creative place, a passion for more right brain type thinking. I think we both know that there has to be a fusion and a balance, and really the marketing leaders are generalists, right? They have to be able to flex between what the spreadsheet imperative is and what is going to have emotional resonance in creative. Is that what you think makes good CMOs and good agency partners? Ones that are able to flex between both and be able to understand the implications of what a creative output looks like and to what that actually means for the bottom line and be able to bridge those two? John: Yeah, absolutely. I think that if I had to narrow down the CMOs obligation to the business, it is to continually be the voice of the customer. The CMO has a view that no one else in the organization has. When I was a CMO, not only was I in charge of marketing, I was also in charge of the e-commerce channel. So I was getting real time interaction and feedback with the customer. I knew more than anybody else in the organization did about customer behavior. Part of that was understanding what they were feeling, which is something that is more on the qualitative right side of the brain and then how they were behaving, which we were actually able to quantify to what they were doing. That example that I gave you about the label in a sweater, the feedback and what we learned was that “Made in America,” for this specific customer, for this specific brand, was really really important. But we weren't touting it on the product itself enough. We took a customer's understanding of what was important and then had to understand the business implications, changing out a label and what the implications were from EBITDA. So there's this balance between, yes, there's an Excel spreadsheet and being able to talk the language of finance, but also owning that customer voice and that is your position of strength as the CMO that no one else has. If you can inform your CEO, you can inform your CFO, and you can inform your COO, at the end of the day, this is what our customer's telling us they want. There's no customers, there's no business, there's no spreadsheet, right? So that's where the focus needs to be. The best CMOs are using that as their stake in the ground. I own this and then surrounding themselves with the data around that person to be able to illustrate to a matrix organization how we need to be delivering for the customer each and every day as well as how we need to be driving our top line and bottom line growth as a business. Ryan: Then leading into the question that you know was coming, do great agencies then have a really intimate understanding of the customer, of our clients, and are empowering the brands that we're working with to have even more astute understanding of those customers to empower the CMO, to bridge those conversations between the spreadsheet and the customer? John: Yeah, without question. I think that, the great independent agencies, the great agencies, quite honestly, there's no shortage of data. We have access to the data, but what the CMO and the CEO don't need is another dashboard. They don't need a weather report. They need someone who's gonna extract the meaningful data from the dashboards and say, one, this is happening, why do I care? What are the implications of this for my business? What are we gonna do differently because of the data? I think that where agencies have an opportunity to really, really support clients is the ability to interpret the data into something that's meaningful and actual and contextualize the data. I call it kind of thick data, right? We've heard big data, right? But thick data is when you can contextualize what this means for people and I think the agencies that are doing that, because we can get just completely overwhelmed by the numbers sometimes; paralyzed by the numbers sometimes. Ryan: We have too much data a lot of the time. John: Exactly. So the ability to kind of cut through it and say, these are the data points that actually matter and contextualize it. What the CEO needs to know is gonna be very different from what the CMO’s gonna need to know. The ability to enable the CMO to manage up through the right elements of data, I think, great agencies are doing that for them and you're really kind of defining your value to the client within that ecosystem by doing so. Ryan: Makes a lot of sense. We have time for one more question. I'm always curious, especially since you're overseeing or have involvement with over 80 agencies, and those 80 agencies have hundreds, if not thousands of brands that they're representing. What are the elements that make the strongest brand agency relationships? Agencies don't wanna have a two year lifeline either. We wanna be partners for 20 years. What are the elements that make those long lasting, trusting, impactful partnerships? What advice do you have for brands to seek the agencies that are ready to partner for the long haul? John: Yeah I'll tag it from a couple fronts. Building on the previous discussion about what makes great agencies, I think great agencies understand where they can add the most value. They're not trying to be everything to everyone. They're picking some level of—agencies hate it when I talk about specialization because it feels like it's this limiting thing. But I actually think specialization can be an advantage in that it allows you to scale. In other words, if you're the best at x, it doesn't matter where you are in the world, clients are gonna find you because they're looking for a level of expertise. Ryan: You’ve been listening to Blaire. John: Blaire’s a good friend actually and Blaire will tell you that as a specialist you have the ability to charge a premium for your services. If you are an expert in delivering that value for clients, you should be able to charge a premium and clients will be willing to pay it for you because you understand where you can add the most value. The world doesn't need another full service agency. We have plenty of them and I'm not banging on full service shops in any way, shape, or form. Having diversification from a client basis is good, but I think when you have a really clear understanding of who you are and the ability to articulate that very clearly for clients, it helps clients understand where you sit within their ecosystem. You talked about trust and that's an outcome, right? We always say we want to be partners, we don't wanna be vendors. But there's something that we have to deliver to earn that right. I used to tell my team, when I was running an account group, that our job is to get our clients promoted. Just sit with that for a moment. If your KPI at Coegi was I'm gonna get my clients promoted, what does that look like? It looks like, okay, why do they get promoted? They've had a high degree of performance in the business. They're driving growth, they're innovating, they've managed change. If you're in the mindset of we've gotta deliver a 10 to 1 ROS, or if you're in the mindset of, I've gotta get this person to the next level, you're gonna do everything you can as an agency to understand their world, not this, what's keeping you up at night, like, no, no, no. Let me have a real clear understanding of what your path to performance and growth is and what are the KPIs that you have as an individual and how do I help you do those? How do I understand your business as well as you understand your business and that's spending time in the retail channel. I mentioned that earlier when I was driving a keg truck. It is getting access to the data. It is consistently pushing and challenging the client and helping them get to the next level. The client side of that is gonna require you to let us in. We have to have access. We don’t know what's driving this brief. We as agencies have to say, why did this brief get created in the first place? What's the question behind the brief? We've gotta push the clients. Clients have to let us in and not be protective of the data and the drivers they're having in their world. I think if you put yourself in that mindset in service of the client to get them to the next level, you are going to succeed and they're gonna succeed. You create that. I go back to that freedom piece where–- you know the clients relationships that you've had, that have been the most successful ones. They've probably ones where your client many times has actually been a mentor for you. There have been environments where you have been able to challenge and I think that when there is candor in the relationship and everybody's moving towards the same objective, which sounds really obvious, but it's not always that case, those are the great partnerships. We've been working with 3M for 15 years. We've been working with Las Vegas tourism for 40 years. We've been working with Activision for 17 years. These are unheard of relationships and it goes back to where we started this, about the value of independent agencies, how they think about the business, how they put the best people on the accounts, and how they're committed 100% to putting stakeholder, which is the client, above everything else. Trust is an outcome of a behavior set. My belief is if you said that's my KPI, I'm gonna get my client performance promoted, you're gonna have a very long standing relationship. Ryan: That's a great KPI for account people in particular. I'm guilty of the what's keeping you up at night question, or at least I used to be. How can I get you promoted is a more succinct way of getting to that. But the candor's so important and it's hard to have candor when your true stakeholder is Wall Street. It's much easier to have candor when you're not always thinking about the quarterly earnings report that's about to come out. That's something I've always toted as a value that Coegi has and I'm glad to hear that's something that you're seeing as well. I only have a couple minutes. Are there any other thoughts that you've had to wrap up the conversation? Anything else that you'd like to say before I let you go? John: No, I guess I would just say the idea of understanding who you are as an agency, I think is absolutely critical. I think it gives you the ability to make decisions about every aspect of your business. We are very good at helping clients connect with their highest value customers. That's exactly how Coegi positions Itself. It guides every decision you make. It guides the type of investments you make in your organization. It guides the type of people that you hire. It guides the type of clients that you know you can be right for. That notion of freedom, you're seeing independent agencies make smarter decisions about the partnerships with clients. They know when they're right for a client and they're open with the client if they feel like maybe we're not the right solution for you and that's okay because they have the freedom to not have to chase everything. When you know the pieces of business that you have the right to win when you're going into the new business opportunities, because let's face it, pitching is a lot of work and it's a lot of time not just on the agency side, but on the client side of the business. The data has just come out that pitches are costing clients up to a million dollars in time. When we as both client and agencies get very clear on the client side, what we are looking for and agencies are very clear at this is what we do extremely well and say, do we have the right to win this? Then everybody wins. Independent agencies are saying no to the wrong opportunities, saying yes to the right opportunities, and I think the more that that happens, you're going to see the partnership between clients and agencies just flourish. Versus, yeah, we're gonna go after that because we need to hit the top line growth. No, you know the business that you're right for, you know the clients that you wanna work for, and I think at the end of the day, clients know the types of agencies that fit within their culture as well. I'd leave a collective group of clients and agencies that are on this call to say let's lean into the partnership opportunity, not treat each other as vendors, and really kind of work together to elevate everybody's business. I think our industry’s gonna be in a greater place moving forward. Ryan: For the brands to be infused with some of the freedom that the independents have, that also gives CMOs some freedom and flexibility from these things that they aren't able to do in-house that they can do when they partner with independent agencies. John: Well, I'll just say this, some of them are part of publicly traded companies too as clients and we have to be aware of that. If you're gonna, I said I was gonna leave you with one thing, I'll leave you with this. I think the next killer app is not about technology. It's really empathy, right? Is everybody understanding, what are you being tasked to do on the client side? What am I being tasked to do here on the client side? Where's the intersection of those two things? And let’s go perform well with somebody. Ryan: I love it John. Thank you so much for joining us and looking forward to everything that's to come from our partnership. Thanks again. John: Yep Ryan, a pleasure. Thank you. Ryan: Have a good day.

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