The Competence of Agencies in Question. Who is to Blame?
Very recently, we at Brandguff had an interesting discussion with the Brand Manager of Yeti Brewery. He stressed how the company has been contemplating building an in-house marketing team. Just then, we recalled Fonepay's recent vacancy for a Creative Manager; the reason for it being a lack of creativity from their official agency. Brands generally outsource crucial marketing functions related to design & creativity to agencies. However, looking at big brands trying to incorporate a full-fledged marketing team within their company hierarchy left us with a critical question - Are agencies failing to cater to the needs of brands?
Before Yeti Brewery, the Brand Manager had worked in several reputed agencies. He pointed out that being in the agency side of business, brands were often lambasted for lacking sufficient knowledge in brand building. With the reversal of his role, he now feels that agencies fall prey to the ‘Yes Man’ culture. Agencies do not go that extra mile to emphasize their creative inputs and strictly work as per the instructions provided by clients. This results in a short-lived client & agency relationship where there is no significant contribution towards the overall growth of brands.
The Nepalese marketing industry has thousands of agencies that sprung out like mushrooms over the last decade. Several marketers who worked as content writers, copywriters and designers in reputed agencies for a couple of years have opened their own agencies, particularly digital agencies. Arguably, a major portion of digital marketing has taken a different meaning altogether where agencies update Facebook and Instagram profiles with substandard works. How did wishing followers with each and every festival every other day become a social media marketing strategy? Put differently, social media marketing has become a tool for agencies to fill up the social media feeds of brands regularly for a month in exchange for a competitive price package that every new agency is offering.
Brandguff itself attempted to outsource its social media handles to an agency which was met with a huge disappointment. The agency's social media strategy contained redundant fillers that included wishing followers on everyday occasions and festivals. We mean no disrespect to festivities but what brand message are we communicating to our followers via such wishes? We exist to share striking brand & marketing updates from the industry. Here, we felt that the agency was simply offering substandard service to bill us the outstanding amount rather than helping us grow as a brand.
Another issue that plagues the marketing industry of Nepal is the agencies' tendency to compete in pricing packages. It is no wonder that even the likes of Wunderman Thompson could not survive in such an unhealthy competition. Brand & marketing managers are often tempted by competitive prices that agencies offer. Especially during the current period of recession where brands are cutting marketing budgets, agencies that pitch the lowest amount are likely to secure the jobs. However, the quality of work is bound to be affected when compromise on the monetary value is of the utmost priority.
Agencies are meant to work behind the scenes to plan, implement and execute strategies that help brands grow their business. This culture of offering substandard marketing services needs to change. If you are to look at the social media handles of several corporate brands in Nepal, they look identical in terms of content strategy (brand colors, logo and font aside). These handles that boast thousands and millions of followers often garner less than a hundred engagements, signaling a lack of creativity and effective content planning strategy. Isn't this defeating the whole idea of brand & marketing?