Today’s consumers demand personalized content and marketing that is custom tailored to their needs delivered when, where and how they want it. These dynamics place agencies and marketing services companies under tremendous pressure to deliver creative ideas to clients while providing the performance and cost transparency to back it all up.
As the industry is rapidly transitioning from manual to automated ad/media buying/management, and from mass marketing to personalization based on big data, these pressures are quickly reshaping the way agencies and marketing services firms need to be structured.
To provide brands with efficiency and transparency, agencies must first and foremost achieve internal visibility across the agency lifecycle and workflow. For example, agencies need deep insights into past projects and profitability with clients to structure proposals for new work that wins the business yet hits agency margin targets.
Disparate and incompatible applications that are typical at agencies and media services firms make it difficult to access accurate, timely data to make informed business decisions. Time and money are lost as personnel manually crunch data in spreadsheets and piece together interdependent processes. Delays, guesswork and lost opportunities are not uncommon despite the industry’s growing appetite for data.
In a fragmented environment, how can agencies and marketing services companies get the data they need to make the decisions that could mean the difference between profit and loss, winning and losing, survival or extinction? How are they going to become nimble enough to adapt quickly to market realities?
A growing number of firms are rethinking their legacy business systems. Leaders have already transitioned to unified, industry-specific platforms that are driving new levels of efficiency and transparency. Selecting the optimal solution for your business requires an evaluation of your pain points, strategic objectives and the capabilities of a business management system.
Rather than giving an exhaustive list of features to look for in evaluating business management systems, instead, focus on the outcomes you want to get out of it.
Outcome #1: Gain Visibility into Your Business to Make Smarter, Timelier Decisions
With a 360-degree view of your company and crucial business metrics, you’ll be able to:
- Evaluate business performance and profitability at the project/campaign, account, agency and holding company level.
- Monitor the full lifecycle of campaign/project performance, from bidding/proposal to invoicing.
- Optimize campaign/project management and resourcing.
- Dynamically make informed business decisions in real-time to adapt to changing client needs and demands.
- Determine how to invest in each account geography or advertising category to maximize revenue.
- Better manage time and expenses.
- Standardize forecasts.
Outcome #2: Get Up and Running Quickly, and Speed Time to Value
To ensure a rapid deployment, look for vendors that offers:
- A cloud-based, configurable solution that reduces or eliminates the need for costly custom-coded scripts.
- A training curriculum customized for your organization.
- A global services team able to support international deployments.
- Guaranteed uptime backed by a Service-Level Commitment.
Outcome #3: Optimize Campaign/Project Management and Resourcing
A business management system should:
- Provide real-time dashboards and reports of account/project/campaign revenue and profits, project/campaign delivery vs. agreed upon targets and milestones.
- Display in real-time the skills, utilization, cost and availability of creative and media services staff and freelancers.
- Enable easy drag-and-drop management to allow campaign/project resourcing and trafficking in real-time.
- Integrate with other solutions you use to drive your business, such as DoubleClick, OpenAds and other ad and verification servers.
- Empower individual creative and media services staff and freelancers to capture time and expenses.
Outcome #4: Improve Resource, Demand and Inventory Forecasting
Look for a solution with sales and forecasting capabilities that allow you to:
- Manage the entire estimate-to-sale workflow.
- Optimize RFP budgeting.
- Create role-based dashboards and UIs (for executives vs. finance vs. project management vs. sales, etc.).
- Gain visibility into historical account/agency/category financials as well as forecast/predictive insights.
- Enable unified and recurring billing.
- Allow you to expand your online business by selling multiple brands, languages and currencies on a single ecommerce platform.
Outcome #5: Scale and Evolve with Growth
Look for a solution that:
- Enables operational efficiencies that handle growth.
- Is trusted by existing agencies and marketing firms, both large global firms and small boutiques.
- Has a track record of supporting agencies and marketing services firms through periods of hyper-growth.
- Has data centers designed to accommodate surges and spikes in usage, and to scale to address increased volume and transactions.
- Streamlines complex billing.
- Manages revenue recognition.
Outcome #6: Ensure a Successful Deployment with the Right Partner
Look for the following:
- Has a vertical focus, including a team focused on agencies and marketing services.
- Company is sustainable, i.e., built on a solid business model.
- Ensures business continuity with systems and infrastructure that allow access to data at all times as well as certified disaster recovery processes that map to your organization.
- Understands and enables audit control with easily accessible business metrics.
Client-side brand marketers and procurement teams are asking ever-tougher questions of their agencies such as, “How much ROI am I generating from each dollar of advertisement spent on print, TV vs. mobile or online search, display and vides? And “What have you don’t for me lately that I cannot do better, more cost-effectively, using an in-house creative or media team?”
Is your company prepared to answer those questions? Use these six outcomes as a guide to provide your company with the framework to support the underlying functionality that a business management system must provide to adapt to the new demands, and pressures of the changing agency and marketing services economy.
Find out how leading agencies and marketing services companies are leveraging the #1 Cloud ERP to get the data they need to scale their businesses Buyers Guide to Business Management Software.