A friend on LinkedIn recently asked me clarification on a question that one of his clients had posed to him:
How frequently should a company call agencies for a pitch for annual Brand & Communication strategy?
Is it safer and better to continue to deal with the same agency by renewing the contract annually for a few years? (So that there is consistency in thinking and strategizing)
Alternatively, should one call pitches every year to get fresh perspectives?
Now, there are quite a few posers in this query. First of all there are not many agencies dealing with an overall Brand and Communications strategy, only a few.
The rest are focused on their niche business strategies, whether it is an ad agency or a digital marketing agency or a PR agency, they all operate in silos. To expect them to contribute to your business’ brand and communications strategy is probably not fair to them.
Secondly, the strategy has to flow from your business objectives which means, as an inside communication head, 'you' are at the core of the strategy and not the agency. The ‘business’ objectives, challenges, vision, ecosystem, peer performance, analysis – all of these lead to a set of ‘brand’ objectives and key messages.
These in turn lie at the heart of formulating your brand positioning strategy, and then of course the tactics flow from there. At this stage, an agency can be involved.
Now, coming back to the query – irrespective of whether you are changing the agency or not, you NEED to revisit your brand strategy every new financial year. The reason being that you, your business, your environment are all dynamic in nature, so do not expect a static strategy to support you effectively over the years.
In fact, in an ideal situation, the strategy is tweaked with every new marketing lesson learned.
So refresh your strategies periodically, and if your agency is performing well, in tune with your objectives, then get them on board with the new strategy every time.
Do not change an agency for the sake of it, when you change the strategy. Change an agency if they are not performing as per your objectives, and not bringing a fresh perspective in the strategy brainstorming sessions you have with them.
I hope that answers the question :-)