11 September 2014 | Tom Denford
Agency Performance Management (APM) is just the sort of phrase that fills marketing directors and agency MDs with gloom.
More paperwork, more questions that take time away from creating brilliant work of the sort that’s just been celebrated in Cannes. But they would be foolish to be so dismissive because APM promises to fundamentally change not just how brands seek their agency partners but also the successful relationship that follows.
It starts right from the RFP. When a client is happy to devise an APM strategy with a new agency, you know they are prepared to tackle relationship challenges that tend to occur once the honeymoon is over.
APM requires clients to be specific upfront about their requirements from an agency and it’s much easier for an agency to perform well once they are clear what their brief is.
An APM approach also requires clients be more transparent about performance metrics and how they will be calculated and assessed. It’s better to know exactly how you will be measured because focused agency resource can be applied into those areas.
Regular evaluations create a forum for discussion, giving both sides a chance to highlight issues and agree actions, way before any issue becomes a relationship breaker.
APM means issues get talked about at the first possible opportunity rather than waiting for the first annual review, leaving time for a sense of dissatisfaction to build.
For many agencies, APM is a “pitch saver” because it allows them to proactively deal with people or process issues that, if left unchecked, typically fester into dysfunction.
For smart agencies that want to be assessed and rewarded for the value they contribute, the benefits of APM extend long into the contract. By forcing clients to be clear about their goals, the groundwork for a productive relationship has been set and the best agency talent will always want to work for brands that can describe, measure and pay for success.
Delivering these advantages requires commitment. Regular – four times per year – assessments enable agencies to demonstrate improvements. They illustrate that the more an agency knows about a client’s business, the better results it should be able to deliver.
The aim is to create incremental improvement that makes the relationship both more productive and more efficient.
☛ Tom Denford is the co-founder of media management consultancy ID Comms