January 15, 2014

Networks are worth more than their net-worth

Posted by Fifth Ring

I recently attended a Business Marketing Association’s Go & Grow conference in New York City, entitled ‘Transformations: Now & Next.’ It was fascinating.

Held at The New York Academy of Sciences, with magnificent, sweeping views of the city, the event was certainly in the right location for lofty concepts to emerge.

And they did.

The floor was held by CMOs and senior marketers for major global brands like Motorola Solutions, IBM, General Electric, Axciom, Ricoh, Lincoln Financial – as well as media and social leaders including Google, LinkedIn, Forbes and Bloomberg Businessweek. What became clear is that technology is an immense and growing marketing transformer.

Big data. Social and mobile ubiquity. Marketing automation. Measurement and analytics. Layers of complexity that need to be leveraged and managed.

When you add ‘global’ into the mix, an already astounding level of complexity increases exponentially.

Yet all the above leads to a concept that has emerged for me.

For global B2B brands, who is best suited to solve the complexity and deliver the level of worldwide marketing synchronicity that’s called for? Who can deliver the holistic and market-specific strategies that are required, or the multi-channel media, search, mobile and digital contact strategies that roll up into true brand activation? What about the social fluency and content currency that unleash these essential channels? The broad and deep measurement and analytical capabilities that map and optimise the probability of success?

In my view, the agency holding companies and large ‘owned’ agency networks are legacies of a world that has moved on. Yes, they can do great work – but can they do this consistently and with the mastery of technology, granularity and accountability that great B2B marketing now mandates? In my experience, the answer is no.

Yet, brands haven’t the time for the likely alternative: to cherry-pick and manage the innovative, best-of-breed agencies that have the requisite capabilities and track records to actually get the job done in this different world we are operating in.

So, here’s my concept. Instead of the usual suspects, I suggest there is a new and better solution. It involves a specialist network of B2B agencies to come together, precisely because the new world of B2B marketing is crying out for a new solution.

These ‘blood brother’ agencies, which each deliver best-practice, modern B2B marketing for their clients, have advanced and conformed their processes so they now operate truly as one. They are available to given clients in given markets; the UK, Germany, France, Russia, the US, China, Brazil, Australia, Dubai etc. They are collectively available to clients with needs in multiple markets globally. They are the Business Branding Network, and in full transparency our agency, Stein + Partners Brand Activation has recently joined BBN and is profoundly impressed.

Have that feeling in your gut that you’re leaving opportunity on the table? Perhaps then, in this different world, there is a new way. And a better one.

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