In conversation on new business and growth with David Anders, EVP of Business Development at RAPP, we learn more about how to choose the right partnerships for exponential growth, economic trends and what this means for today's marketing economy.
When searching for growth opportunities, how do you determine what is the right fit for the agency?
At the core of our evaluation process is a commitment to stay true to what we do best – building and implementing first party data strategies, making experiences better for people across their journey, designing and delivering personalized creative, and proving marketing performance. The opportunities we pursue must include those things to some extent.
We also look for brands that stand up for individuality because that’s at the heart of who we are and what we do. We consider their desire and ability to know their customers and to create personalized experiences. If a client is uninterested in knowing individuals better and creating more value in those relationships, it’s probably not the right opportunity for us. We also carefully consider a brand’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. We’re committed to walking the walk – both in the experiences we create and also within our agency culture – so we want our clients to be as well. That may be the best indicator we have for ensuring cultural compatibility.
Finally, we prefer to work with brands and marketers who show a sense of fearlessness. We like taking smart risks, standing up for what’s right, pushing against staid ways of working and challenging conventional norms. Our best partnerships are ones in which we truly trust and push each other.
What does exponential growth look like for your agency? For example, project work vs AOR pitches, geographic, interdisciplinary, etc.
First, it’s important to know that I don’t see growth of any form, whether incremental or exponential, as a goal. Growth is simply measurable proof of an ongoing series of successful outcomes. So exponential growth comes from a relentless commitment to attitudes and behaviors that create success. It’s about pursuing the right opportunities for the right reasons. It means knowing when to say no. It’s about being responsive and communicating clearly and openly. It’s about keeping your promises. It’s about sharing and collaborating in ways that feed success for others, as well as for yourself. When you get those things right with a high degree of consistency, you generate successful outcomes – whether in pitches or in existing client relationships. And those successful outcomes inevitably lead to meaningful growth.
What are the key challenges and / or opportunities for brands in today’s marketing economy?
As marketers continue trying to do more with less, the pressure to commoditize the creative process makes it hard to create emotional experiences that drive sustained favorability and engagement. That’s why we care so much about understanding personal preferences and what makes people tick – so we can connect in ways that create lasting impact. As privacy standards continue to improve and expand, brands need to better demonstrate why customers will benefit from sharing their personal information. Pop-up cookie policies are not enough. As an industry, we could do so much better in responsibly collecting and using personal information to create better experiences for people. Brands that make this a priority will find greater success than those that don’t.
Given the uncertainty of the past couple of years, are there any trend predictions you have about where the ad and media industries are headed?
As uncertainty persists with no end in sight, I believe we’ll continue to feel the pressure for our industry to evolve in two key areas: performance measurement and agency compensation. First, as we brace for a difficult economic climate, we know that marketers will have to squeeze positive results from every penny spent. Agencies, perhaps more than ever, need to be able to effectively prove the value of their work. If you’re not fixated on predicting, measuring, and optimizing the performance of your work, day in and day out, you’re in trouble.
Second, I think we’re finally reaching a point where there is widespread appetite to develop mutually beneficial compensation models and associated terms between clients and agencies. There seems to be real and sustained momentum toward performance-based models, but most still place disproportionate risk on agencies without the opportunity for corresponding upside. Coupled with increasingly deferred payment terms, we’re not yet creating fair, healthy, accountable relationships that lead to satisfaction for everyone. Nothing good or sustainable ever happens when someone feels they’re getting the short end of the stick. But I do believe the courage and openness we’re starting to see around the topic will continue to clear the air and will soon drive more equitable and mutually satisfying arrangements.