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Top 50 London independent agencies: what's your advice for clients?

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By The Drum Team, Editorial

May 25, 2012 | 12 min read

In the 25 May issue of The Drum, we worked with RAR to publish a special report showcasing the top 50 London independent agencies. Here, we ask those 50 agencies... 'What advice would you give your clients for their marketing in the year ahead?'

1. The Specialist Works Two-thirds of your ROI should be achieved through implementation and one third through strategy. Reduce your risk - use CPA where possible. Analyse results thoroughly and often. Use those results to do more of what works and less of what doesn't.

2. TH_NK I would encourage clients to view their marketing the same way their customers do: holistically. That means asking if the way they behave will have a greater impact than what they say when it comes to making an impression and building relationships. We think it might be time to reinvest campaign planning budget in total experience planning instead. Tarek Nseir, CEO, TH_NK

3. agenda21 Big Data is the biggest challenge and also a huge marketing opportunity for clients. Data volume and the range of sources is growing ever more rapidly. For clients, the real advantage will lie in deploying the best tools, the best systems and the best people to identify what others miss and the most successful ones will then act on it.

4. RPM Take an integrated approach to communications and place the consumer at the heart of the campaign. Establish a shared purpose with your consumer, using it to create a memorable and relevant value exchange, adhering to authenticity and transparency in every media channel.

5. WRG Creative Communication Ltd It’s still tough out there, so the temptation is always to batten down the hatches and stick with tried and trusted methods. No-one ever got fired for playing it safe. But a great idea can be worth millions in media spend, so challenge your agencies to really be brave!

6. Total Media Group Total Media’s recent research into how tablet devices are affecting consumer behaviour and media consumption highlights how the tablet is evolving the way audiences consume and interact with media and marketing. Many other potentially disruptive new technologies will emerge and the challenge for clients is to ensure that effective customer engagement is at the heart of any of their marketing efforts. Furthermore, if companies don’t employ a multimedia strategy which integrates their communications across varying media channels, their marketing campaigns will inevitably suffer.

7. Harvest Digital Be relevant. At the heart of digital marketing performance is relevance. Customers no longer respond to who shouts the loudest, so marketers need to develop the ability to target the right person with the right message at the right time. With the proliferation of new technologies and channels this is becoming more complex. To be successful it is vital that marketers don’t work in digital silos but are able to integrate all the channels so that they effectively work together to deliver context. Data is the glue that binds the channels and allows marketers to understand where their next £ of investment should be made to deliver the best possible performance.

8. Brightsource Work out how to put your customer at the centre of your communications through targeted and highly personalised messaging, triggered by customer behaviour, with responses going out in real-time... through the channel preferred by the customer. Genuine 'customer-centric' marketing across both print and digital channels is now a reality.

9. Fortune Cookie Join up data insights from all your platforms, channels and touch points to build a cohesive picture of your digital performance. Put your analytics and reporting through a rigorous workout; ensure you’re measuring what really matters to your business. Only then can you be sure you’re allocating budget where it’s going to achieve the best results.

10. ODD Be brave - the world is watching.

12= Gyro Trust the value in a big idea.

12= Reading Room Ltd The future media landscape is shaped by technology, by a global marketplace and by an explosion in new and exciting channels. Our advice to clients is to take advantage of these channels with an integrated marketing strategy, maximising use of all communication tools so they work together effectively and not in isolation.

14. Realise Digital Use Realise. Consider the digital aspect of every piece of your marketing activity. In fact, consider the digital aspect of every piece of your company and brand’s activity.

15= Strange Use a full service digital agency if you want better performance from your marketing budget. We're able to 'connect the dots' and deliver higher levels of performance whilst streamlining overheads.

17. INITIALS MARKETING Set realistic objectives which are achievable, to show board colleagues the power of marketing. Look after your best customers and plan programmes to grow your business with them. Be bold and innovative in order to stand out from the crowd.

18. Ferrier Pearce Marketing is now about Business 2 People. B2B and B2C are no longer the focus; instead B2P is the way forward. The internet has allowed a much greater level of engagement with potential and actual customers, but digital is not the silver bullet. Hard copy material and offline media still has a place, but it needs to deliver a different experience to that of online to justify its proportion of the budget. Both have a place, but to what degree? It is understanding the target audience and the influences that will create the right marketing mix. Get this right and you will not only have a highly successful campaign, but more bang for your buck.

19. Out of Home International Landmark events are integral to advertising schedules. 2012 is an incredible year for the UK with the 2012 Olympics and Queens Diamond Jubilee. Outdoor advertising is in the strongest position to target the public spending extra time outdoors and celebrating on the streets of Britain. My advice is work with specialist planners and strategists to ensure you don’t miss your out of home audience.

20. Ergo Focus..!

21. Ambition Communications Ltd Continue to invest in relevant activities using simplicity and tangible effectiveness as key measures. Avoid being distracted by the proliferation of available marketing channels and remain absolutely focused on the required effect and end result.

22. Elmwood Focus on what you’re looking to achieve through design, set clear objectives and engage all stakeholders at the beginning. Be brave creatively, and think about how you can constantly communicate your brand story to your consumers in a relevant and engaging way.

23. Sequence Effectively spend marketing budgets in the digital domain. Invest in your online presence further and ensure that all existing online offerings are optimised to work on mobile where possible.

24= balloon dog Two recommendations: businesses large and small need to ensure that their digital offerings are mobile-optimised. This includes their site, email and online advertising and by using augmented reality applications such as Layar with offline marketing materials. Social media should also be integrated into communications, and clients need to look beyond Facebook and Twitter.

27. Pulse Everyone’s talked the ears off integration, and the number of channels available continues to grow. It’s easy to forget, but certainly worth remembering, that your customers are humans. Ensure keep their experience of your brand at the heart of everything you do.

28. Experience Bring in agencies earlier on in the process. There are often more effective ways of delivering campaigns and ways of significantly improving ROI that agencies that work across many sectors will have experience of.

31. Design Culture Associates Ltd Focus on your digital marketing strategy. Seriously consider moving websites over to responsive design solutions with mobile-ready content. Create opportunities for user feedback, response and interaction and – alongside social media strategy – look at video as a medium to do this.

32. CTI Digital Mobile is here and it’s only going to get bigger. Clients shouldn't be building separate sites for mobile but building sites with responsive design. This way, no matter what device a user hits your site with, they all get a site that works for them on their screen and is still a rich experience. Apps aren’t for every business and can be costly (all devices) so a responsive design is the most appropriate method for all companies.

33= Spinnaker Marketers must look hard at their digital strategies. Mobile marketing, new data mining opportunities and genuine off/online integration are all areas where technology development is offering the strongest brand building and ROI potential that we have seen so far in the digital space.

33= StreamUK Use more video!

35= Golley Slater Spend your budget wisely. Make your pound work harder (as though it were a fiver), making your brand look bigger than the marketing budget suggests.

35= Catch Digital Ltd Increase spend on digital activities which will enhance your key term rankings for your key search terms in SERPs.

37. Haygarth Where traditionally brands have adopted the role of a parent, often talking at their audience, the rise of consumer-centric communications platforms has seen a fundamental shift in the consumer-brand relationship. As such, it is important that brands today adopt the persona of a peer and look to build relationships through honest and frank communications rather than trying to force themselves upon consumers. By engaging with a brand, consumers are aligning their personality to it but they wish to do this on an equal footing. It is therefore paramount that brands develop an in-depth understanding of their consumers, offering real value through their marketing communications but only within the framework of the brand’s core values. It is these core values that give a brand its personality and, by extension, its community. It is important that all marketing activities feel like a natural fit within these values to ensure that they complement, rather than overshadow, the brand itself. Through insight and understanding of the consumer, brand owners should look to establish a mutually beneficial two-way relationship. In this way, they can look to build greater affinity for, and trust in, their brand.

38. 23red Consumers have lost trust in governments and institutions and turn increasingly to friends and family. Brands should look to relevant partnerships and other avenues to join in these conversations.

40. NU Creative If you're not already thinking about digital marketing and social media, now is the time to ensure you incorporate it into your overall marketing strategy, but above all, remember marketing is about people. Ensure your digital strategy is underlined by a core strategy to deliver effective solutions to the right audience in the most suitable way.

42. BWP Group Ltd Keep driving your business forward. Live by your values as a brand and ensure your teams are too. Look at marketing as an investment, not just a cost. Set clear objectives and KPIs with your agency and continually review; do more of what works and less of what doesn't - simple!

43. FDC Studio Invest in the skills and infrastructure to deal with the data deluge marketing teams are facing. Learn to ignore the noise and focus on the metrics that have a business outcome. Recognise that direct marketing is making a comeback in some sectors.

45. Keepthinking Focus on your audiences, their social interaction and their interaction with you. Put together and start implementing a digital engagement strategy, in which you look at every aspect of your communication strategy and tools and get your audiences more informed and involved across the board.

44. Aardvark Media Even in times of price competitiveness, code quality and emphasis on customer experience should be the platform for growth.

46= Mind Corporation Ltd. Look to use some user experience design with your digital campaigns. Use social media and digital in a creative way, not as poor man’s PR.

49. Navigate Digital Limited Given the increasingly fragmented nature of the digital market place, we are advising our clients to take a step back and take a more considered approach to what channels are best suited to their business and marketing objectives. Just because everybody else is doing something doesn't mean it's right.

50. SimpleUsability Don't make uninformed marketing decisions and consider the methodology behind your market research. Our behavioural research is rooted in exploring why customers act in the way they do, whether it's on a website, using a mobile device, reviewing printed publications or in an in-store environment.

The full report is published in the 25 May issue of The Drum, which is available for subscribers to download here.

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