Over the past three years, CMOs have reported an increase in spend that is expected to continue into next year. According to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey from 2016-2017, there has been an upward trend in marketing budgets for three years in a row, rising from 11% to 12% of revenue in the last year alone.
In step with the increase in revenue, the role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and subsequently, the marketing department has grown exponentially over the past decade, transforming from a “top-of-the-funnel” function to a strategic cross-business necessity. With these added budgets and responsibilities, CMOs are under increased pressure to perform better and more quickly to deliver results that move the needle forward.
One area where digital tools provide greater efficiencies for brands, (and agencies), is in the often draconian process of procuring and managing agencies. The traditional agency search can take weeks, if not months, while burdening in-house resources with extra responsibilities. Further, lengthy agency searches impact time-to-market which can stall campaign ROI. Once, the agency is retained, day-to-day management of activities and results can become onerous for brands with complex, multiple touch point campaigns. The good news is there are online tools that greatly reduce this burden.
Top Digital Tools to Source and Hire Agencies Faster
There are two digital tools that facilitate agency selection and management: directories and eCommerce solutions.
Directories: Online directories provide expansive insight into the agency landscape. There are a few top directories, such as Agency Spotter and Clutch that allow brands to see how the agency functions, read reviews and determine high-level expertise. This enables you to shortlist and start the lengthy RFP process to find a proposal that fits your specific criteria. Directories can help cut down on some of the information gathering required to find the right agency, but still require time investment before you see your budget working towards results.
eCommerce Solutions: eCommerce solutions, popular in the freelancer space with sites like Upwork, are now available for the agency market. Within the eCommerce ecosystem, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools such as Oodi, offer a digital system for brands to procure, manage, and pay highly-vetted agencies all from one place. Conversely, agencies enjoy improved deal flow and swifter payment.
In addition to delivering efficiencies in the selection process, the SaaS system manages payment and milestone delivery throughout the project to ensure greater control of the campaign. In the fast-moving digital economy, time to market and tight project control are often the currency of the realm which allows marketers to swiftly adapt to market fluctuations.
Both directories and SaaS solutions provide time and cost savings at varying points through the process of procurement, but the SaaS model offers more comprehensive efficiencies with its soup-to-nuts approach. With this system, procurement, management, milestones, and payments are all managed from one single entity. The upside is a swifter and more controlled spend of resources throughout the life of the campaign.
Top 4 Efficiencies
Brands that have begun to source agencies and marketing services through SaaS environments are seeing increased efficiencies and cost reductions that power their marketing campaigns.
Reduced Time to Hire an Agency
The average time to hire an agency can range from 3-12 weeks depending on the service. The more complex the service is, the more time it will take to compile vetted agencies, pricing, case studies, and more. Directories and SaaS solutions typically pull together these critical data points on each vendor or service across the marketing spectrum, thus, eliminating the time spent gathering this information.
Reduction in Overspending
While Directories typically do not offer clear service pricing, SaaS solutions do. This transparent and up-front pricing give CMOs the information they need to plan budgets and spend immediately. Further, with a clear scope of work on these sites brands are less likely to underestimate costs when they hire agencies through these tools.
Faster ROI on Marketing Investment
Sourcing the right agency is only as good as the ability for the agency to deliver. The SaaS solution includes built-in project management features to enable brands and agencies to stay on schedule and budget while pursuing defined milestones. Brands can keep their marketing funds safe until their agency delivers, which also gives agencies a clear incentive to deliver what they promised within the agreed upon timeframe.
Reduction in Legal Fees Should Issues Arise
As with any project, things can go awry. While we hope they don’t, it’s important to remain protected in the case of a dispute. The SaaS solution offers free dispute resolution services to mitigate issues between brands and agencies when they arise. With legal fees being $500/hour or higher, the cost savings speaks for itself.
Both Directories and SaaS tools provide access to most, if not all of the necessary information to narrow down a shortlist of agencies for marketing services. Directories are great when you have an internal RFP process that you must follow. However, only SaaS tools provide clear insights into pricing and time estimates so brands can hire their agency with a few clicks. The more advanced SaaS systems also include “compare” functionality to allow brands to build a shortlist for further review. What could take an in-house marketer weeks to build, is done in minutes.
Further, the SaaS solution combines procurement efficiencies with campaign management and payment tools to allow for 360° experience designed to allow CMOs to get their funds working to achieve results faster. They also free the CMO from relying on his or her personal network to easily find new agencies with fresh ideas and insights.