Forrest Gump Explains Agency Relationships
Is it weird to Netflix and Chill by yourself?
If not, that’s what I’m doing while I recover from a busted ankle. (And if solo N&C is weird, then I’m totally not doing that. I’m at a very exclusive film festival.)
The point is that I am screening a lot of movies, which is always a great way to pick up pointers about storytelling. But I’m also gleaning all sorts of wisdom about how retail brands can best work with their marketing agencies. These blockbusters, each with a famous quote or several, are literally speaking to me.
“May the force be with you.” (Star Wars)
As Luke Skywalker learned (via many a classic quote from Obi-Wan and Yoda), becoming a Jedi takes time. It also takes some time to build an ideal retail marketing program. There are a lot of moving parts in a great Shopper Moment; the successful integration of in-store, online and in-world brand interaction can be complicated. Giving proper time to creating and planning is critical to making sure Shoppers are engaged at every touch point.
“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” (Cool Hand Luke)
Clear communication is vitally important in the brand/agency relationship. Everyone – at every level – must be on the same page regarding goals, priorities, program elements, timeline and measurements of success. The client’s responsibility in the process is to communicate clearly and specifically. It is the agency’s task to listen well, add value and make it happen. Regular weekly or monthly meetings and calls to talk strategy and progress are mandatory.
“There’s no place like home.” (The Wizard of Oz)
The brand home page is usually the centerpiece of the retail marketing program; even when all the activity seems to be in-store. Especially when all the action seems to be in-store.
Remember, the goal is to surround the shopper with the aura of the brand. To do that, the brand or brand event needs a hub that serves as a clearinghouse for information and a gateway to additional Moments. Imagine a wheel where every shopper interaction (the spokes) leads back into the program anchor. That setup is an ideal model for mapping out a retail marketing program in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
“Show me the money!” (Jerry Maguire)
Money talks and BS walks. Soon after the getting-to-know-you, we’ve-built-an-awesome-plan and the let’s-launch-this-thing periods are over, the agency should be delivering results, just as Jerry planned to as he uttered that indelible quote. It’s important to hold an agency partner accountable. Don’t keep working with an agency that isn’t delivering the agreed-upon results. It’s a disservice to both parties to maintain a relationship that isn’t rooted in growth.
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” (Jaws)
It often takes a sizeable vessel to land the monster shark. And by vessel I mean budget. It is important to support ideas and programs with appropriate resources. And if a concept cannot be executed with the dollars available, it’s time to consider another idea. The smart agency partner will tell you this, and will come to the table with new thoughts that make whatever size boat you have work hard.
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” (Forrest Gump)
Testing is important. Some campaigns will underperform. Others will succeed beyond imagination. Sometimes the pieces come together beautifully to make a shining Shopper Moment. Other times, not so much. Testing and experimenting in partnership with the agency are more crucial than ever before. Invest a significant amount of time and energy into real-time program review, course correction and measurement.
“To infinity and beyond!” (Toy Story)
In retail marketing, the task at hand is never really completed. There’s always room for improvement; the job is a circular process of creation, execution, management and refinement.
If the work has been good, keep the brand/agency machine humming. Maintain momentum. Move forward, build upon what’s there, experiment and take some chances.