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Why buying people and not the agency is the brave new world

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Kazoo's managing partner on how millennial clients are changing the rules of the game.

As more millennials move into leadership roles in brands, there is a big impact on how agencies are pitching and will pitch in future.

With millennials taking decision-making roles in the marketing teams of brands, they have turned their attention to the pitch process and decided that it’s not up to the mark and needs to be shifted.

Millennials (and gen Z) want to change things up and do things their way and this is what will dictate how agencies win business and work with brands in the coming years.

The hallmarks of millennial behaviour are driving these changes, from collaboration on the co-creation of the brief through to flexible working patterns.

This new generation of millennial clients are no longer willing to accept that the traditional formal and structured work pattern is the ultimate way to get the best out of a work partnership. The things that are important to this younger workforce are infiltrating how businesses are run, mainly because millennials demand that their morals infiltrate how they want to engage who they work with.

Purpose as a commodity is of the utmost importance and millennial clients want their agency partner to value what they do. They are looking for an agency to join the brand community, so an agency needs to have shared values as well as being truly credible and authentic in their approach to the agency/client relationship.

Perhaps the starkest change that millennial clients are instigating is the approach to agency pitches; the delivery and the process. More than ever before, the pitch team is required to be the people doing the doing. They don’t want to see the slickest most senior people in a room; that doesn’t make sense when they embrace a flat management structure, they want to see and hear from the people who will be doing the work on the ground day in, day out.

The traditional senior team is relegated to sit outside the boardroom door whilst the account team share in a frank and tangible discussion about how the team works, how flexible the agency is, how they believe the budget will work and how they have faced and solved similar problems in the past.

This shift in pitch structure also marks the end of flashy PowerPoint presentations in favour of conversation and ‘brainstorming the brief’ sessions as a measure of authentic chemistry between client and agency. After all, at the heart of the pitch is the age-old truth that the brand is buying the people not the agency, millennial clients are just living it rather than saying it.

Great work has always been built on great working relationships so as agency leaders we need to celebrate this step change, drop the jargon, be authentic to our own agency purpose and trust in our pitch teams that they can strike the winning cord with their client counterparts.

Lydia Hoye is the managing partner at Kazoo.

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