The Shift at the “Adult Table”

There’s no denying that the rise of the digital marketplace has changed the way business gets done. For marketers on top of their game, digital delivers real, meaningful opportunities to achieve more measureable results than ever before. And to a large extent, the ability to demonstrate bottom-line value is what gets you a spot at 2012’s “adult table.”

So why are many agencies still so hesitant to get paid based on their performance? In a recent Digiday article, Jack Marshall contends, “For most brands, marketing is seen as an expense, not an opportunity, and that fact continues to dictate their relationships with agencies.”

Historically, the challenge for many marketers has been to demonstrate the direct correlation of the marketing expense with the return on that investment. Now, with maturation of digital marketing and the data it provides, we as marketers finally have the ability to show value in financial metrics. There’s really no excuse not to go further as a marketing partner to fully align goals with clients in a “performance” relationship.

A performance relationship is not simply about a new model for compensation; it’s about a way of building a long-term, trustworthy client relationship that is rooted in ROI. Getting there means being confident enough in your abilities to invest in front of opportunities, be that media, people, data & analytics, consumer experience design or operations. In effect, Leapfrog Online bets that our approach will get the right results for both our clients and our business, and our clients can be sure we’ll have an impact on revenue because our success is tied directly to their success.

As I responded in the comment section of the Digiday article, the reason so many agency execs feel like they’re now sitting at the kids table is that those seated at the adult table expect to be working with agencies who are strategically aligned with their bottom line, providing clear accountability, innovation and scale to grow their business. As a true marketing partner, if you aren’t willing to put skin in the game, it’s easy to understand why clients might question your investment and confidence in services you are pitching.

I’m excited to get a chance to elaborate on the importance of the pay-for-performance model at the Digiday Agency Summit October 23-25. I hope to see you there and will be sharing my thoughts from the panel in a future blog.



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