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Partnering Up: Marketing Entities Find Strength in Cooperation

August 08
20:43 2017

Industry leaders cite the importance of marketing agencies collaborating with one another. In regional (Texas) news, Dallas-based Perspectivity International announces it has selected Abilene-based Jemully Media as a preferred marketing partner.

The business of outsourced marketing keeps evolving.

In an article headlined “Three Trends That Could Make Marketing Better in 2017,” Uri Baruchin observed that inter-agency collaboration is making for better marketing, and also making marketing better.

“With the rising importance of interconnected media… clients are expecting agencies to work together,” Baruchin wrote. Baruchin is strategy director at The Partners, a brand strategy, design, and innovation agency recognized for its creative excellence.

Baruchin called this partnering practice “horizontality.” Actually, he borrows the term from Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, plc, the world’s largest advertising conglomerate. Horizontality is, in Sorrell’s definition, the practice of ad agencies joining forces [Baruchin’s “inter-agency collaboration”] with their clients’ technology partners and digital agencies.

Collaborative Efforts

Whether it’s called “agency partnering,” “inter-agency collaboration,” or “horizontality,” the trend of two or more agencies teaming up to serve one client (or even multiple clients) is a phenomenon that continues to gain traction in marketing’s fast-changing landscape.

Said Baruchin: “An unexpected but positive side effect to this trend is a return to radical simplicity in brand strategy…. As agencies and clients both now have to keep multiple teams on the same page, they are forced to go back to the fundamental elements that everyone can agree on and understand. This creates a natural distillation process that is very healthy for brands as well as for marketing as a discipline.”

(In case you’re wondering, the other two trends cited for 2017 are “Social Media is Finally Maturing” and “[Nearly] Everybody is Millennial.”)

Sorrell himself, writing in the Harvard Business Review last year, observed that a “big shift in [WPP’s own] organizational structure came from [their] effort to create ‘horizontality,’ which began in the 1990s but has accelerated over the past decade.” Sorrell said that his company “recognized that our largest clients don’t necessarily want to choose a single agency; they want access to the best talent and ideas from across [a] group.”

Incidentally, Sorrell paid lip service to what might be called a “fourth” trend when he acknowledged that “Digital today accounts for as much as 40 percent of our revenue; someday that will probably be 100 percent.”

What Brand Marketers Need

Yet more acknowledgement of the agency collaboration trend came on July 20 when Econsultancy, a digital marketing research firm, released its study entitled “Partners in Transformation: What Brand Marketers Need from Agencies,” in association with IBM Watson Customer Engagement.

The research examines how brands are using their agencies today, and what they want in the future.

A key takeaway from the study:

“Collaboration is a secret to success for both brands and agencies. One of the most telling differences between high performing companies and the mainstream is the strong collaboration they report; high performers are three times more likely to describe their inter-agency collaboration as ‘highly effective.'”

Partnering Filters Down to Smaller Players

In a move that demonstrates that the agency partnering trend has touched smaller agencies as well, Dallas-based Perspectivity International, a sales consultancy firm, has selected Abilene, Texas-based Jemully Media, a digital agency, as a preferred marketing partner, giving each company an expanded toolkit and giving each a share in the workload within the other company’s clientele and market area. This is no merger or acquisition—the founders of each agency have indicated that the step is purely cooperative. Each has indicated that the other business has a complementary skill set that meshes well with its own.

photo of Brian Williams

Brian Williams is the founder of Perspectivity International.

That’s an arrangement that has clear benefits for agencies that have a strong area of focus and are in no rush to diversify into additional skillsets, with all the additional oversight and overhead each involves. In the case of Perspectivity International and Jemully Media, Perspectivity International has a strong emphasis on sales messaging. That is their stock-in-trade. Jemully Media, though they are somewhat more of a traditional digital agency, in that they handle a large amount of website development and social media management for their clientele, has a pronounced emphasis on content marketing.

As the leaders at each of the respective businesses have indicated, Perspectivity would prefer to keep its emphasis on sales messaging and involve Jemully for content marketing, website, and social media work, and Jemully is pleased to lend its own expertise to Perspectivity clients and leave the sales messaging and branding to Perspectivity, at least where Perspectivity’s clients are involved.

Single Point Accountability

Another benefit of this approach is that clients can get single point accountability (Perspectivity’s clients still deal only with Perspectivity’s assigned contact person) while benefiting from the energy and creative diversity of multiple agencies.

 

Perspectivity International’s founder, Brian Williams, said that he is very pleased to have Jemully Media aboard as a preferred marketing partner, and that the arrangement promises not only to serve Perspectivity’s clients well, but to offer strong prospects for growth moving forward.

“This addition of the Jemully Media team really frees us up here to concentrate on what we do best, and that is sales messaging,” said Williams. “Perspectivity International is founded upon the principle of giving people exceptional value by providing quality education, experiential learning, and a systematic approach to designing and delivering communication. We want to keep that emphasis strong, and utilizing Jemully for content, website, and social media help lets us do that. We have other partners besides Jemully Media, and other arrangements similar to this one, and this sort of flexibility lets each of us achieve a real depth in what we can do for clients.”

Jemully Media’s founder Kit Mullins said she and her team are thrilled to be working with Perspectivity and that the fit between the two companies has been perfect.

 

Hubspot Beckons

Williams, who caught the attention of Hubspot this year, will be speaking at Hubspot’s Inbound 2017 event, slated for Sept. 25-28 in Boston. (For info on that event and Williams’ part in it, visit this page.)

Williams is also scheduled to appear in a micro-feature spread in Success magazine as part of the publication’s October issue.

Passion and Poise

“When we first went to Dallas to meet the Perspectivity team, I was struck by Brian Williams’ [founder of Perspectivity] uncanny blending of passion and enthusiasm and calm delivery,” Mullins said. “I could immediately see how he had the ability to educate his clients and gain their trust. It’s because he is experienced and confident. This was appealing to me because I have clients that can benefit from the Perspectivity team’s abilities and the system Brian described to us.

Jemully Team Kit Mullins

Kit Mullins (center of photo), founder of Jemully Media, working with team members at her digital agency.

“Our client base has already expanded beyond West Texas, so this region is no longer our sole area of operation,” added Mullins, who created her agency in 2011. “We can capitalize on opportunities in bigger markets. Many of the large, successful businesses in West Texas do not have a sophisticated message or delivery system. They have operated either on word of mouth or traditional marketing and have not made the transition to equipping their sales team for the digital marketing world.”

This can change, however. And Mullins says fresh angles and prospects keep cropping up everywhere she looks.

“This is all still very new, Mullins added. “Thus far it has been one-sided: Perspectivity giving us work to do for their clients, and us doing that work. We are looking to reciprocate. We are looking for ways to involve Perspectivity’s expertise in the marketing efforts for some of our established clients, and to use our connection to Perspectivity to attract new clients, especially larger clients than those we’ve been servicing in the past.”

Where Strategy Comes In

Mullins observed that the strategy of working horizontally with other agencies has, like many practices in the digital world, arisen in part from the freelance world. “A freelancer who has a single area of expertise has been required to reach out to someone who has a corresponding but different expertise to deliver a package to a client. This works to a degree but it lacks an overall strategic plan. So that is the difference that agencies—a step up from the freelance role—have to offer. Agencies work from a strategic plan, and they focus a unified message across multiple platforms. This cohesion reduces the likelihood of sending mixed marketing messages and unclear branding.”

Another emphasis Jemully Media has is its journalistic roots. Within the Jemully team, the heaviest staffing emphasis is on writers, and most of those have experience in the world of journalism.

Be the Media

“We have a saying that we share with our clients, and that is, ‘Be the Media,’” Mullins said. “People are quick to forget that inbound marketing bypasses traditional marketing, and when you bypass traditional marketing, you are bypassing the built-in audiences that traditional marketing has always supplied. Television, radio, and print media have always sold their followings, typically very large followings, to advertisers. If someone is going to forgo those audiences, one must summon one’s own. It’s easy for online marketers to say to themselves, ‘I don’t want to devote dollars to informing audiences or entertaining audiences—I just want to spend my money on promotions of my products or services.’ But if you hope go direct to your consumers, whether B2B or B2C, and you do not attract audiences at all, you won’t be ‘selling’ your services to anyone, because no one will be listening.”

“That’s why the 80/20 rule of content marketing is so important,” she continued. “About 80 percent of your content should inform and/or entertain, while only about 20 percent should be relegated to direct selling. But that also explains why journalism is a good skillset for marketing entities today to possess. It’s because journalists—and blogging specialists too, we shouldn’t leave them out—are the experts on attracting and retaining an audience.”

Emotional Intelligence

Perspectivity’s clients, past and present, include such companies as Cisco, AT&T, Gatorade, Texas Health Resources, and the National Football League.

The business has a unique approach. Perspectivity, which does business also as “Perspectivity Consulting,” defines itself as a “sales growth agency” that helps companies with a technical emphasis increase their sales by using cognitive and behavioral science to do two things: build effective sales messages that are easy to understand and increase emotional intelligence with clients. Perspectivity’s management has stated that their approach pairs “the power of effective sales messaging with the knowledge of how people think and behave” and that the result “increases client rapport and improves sales.”

The founder and executive team at Perspectivity have engineering and programming degrees, which they say puts them in the position of understanding the communication challenges of the “tech-savvy,” while helping them to grasp the communication needs of both clients and a non-technical audience.

Founder Brian Williams says his 20 years’ experience in Silicon Valley, working with Fortune 100 companies in 12 different countries, gave him a perspective into the business of sales communication training. He says he discovered that ineffective communication skills, and the problems with traditional sales messaging, are problems that cut across country borders and nationalities. It became his desire to give all professionals a new perspective, and to that end he started Perspectivity.

Williams, who has been a Toastmasters Semi-Finalist in world competition, has remarked on occasion that “most sales messages, whether technical or not, are too long, lack continuity, have no emotional connection, and woefully violate adult learning principles.” Perspectivity seeks to overcome these challenges in their capacities as consultants.

Perspectivity International’s website, which in August was revamped by the Jemully team, is found at perspectivityintl.com. JemullyMedia is found at jemully.com.

– staff

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