Transitional transformations of digital marketing agencies

Anand Bhadkamkar, Group CFO and President (Strategy), LS Digital, highlights pointers that CFOs need to keep in mind while driving the finance agenda and strategies for the businesses

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Transitional transformations of digital marketing agencies

Anand Bhadkamkar

A finance professional by training, I have spent many years in this exciting world of marketing, advertising, and communications in various roles in business and finance. I see myself more as a businessman who loves the craft of digital marketing the most. In today's highly competitive market, digital marketing has become a craft that every businessman must embrace.

Remember the mischievous smile of a girl in a polka-dotted dress that stole hearts and became the key to a certain brand of butter's success story? It is a success story that may be hard to replicate in today’s highly competitive market, but it did set a standard for how agencies must continue with their client-centric approach.

Digitisation has brought about significant changes and opportunities. Internet users now spend an average of seven hours a day online, searching for information. The goal of a successful agency should be to intercept these users and engage them effectively.

The media, communications, and advertising industry is undergoing a massive transformation, and agencies are striving to differentiate themselves from the competition. The ability to "be different" is crucial. This is where innovative strategies and outcome-based campaigns come into play, requiring the best minds in the industry. Ultimately, clients expect tangible results, making it essential to attract and retain the right talent.

No wonder, agencies are looking at consolidation as one of the key strategies to address this. Agencies are attempting to scale up their capabilities and expand market share through acquisitions and mergers. This facilitates talent pooling and the evolution of better strategies for going to market. However, this at times leads to overlooking the importance of a client-centric approach at times. There can be several reasons behind this. One of these can be the traditional structure of businesses that are unwieldy and refuse to accept the transition taking place. The fast pace of change can be another reason. Agencies may find it difficult to keep up. Faster integration and greater agility is required to be part of this change and manage it effectively.

Human talent remains crucial in the digital marketing industry. Therefore, identifying the right talent, providing proper training, and retaining employees in the long run become vital objectives. CFOs play a crucial role in developing strategies to drive and achieve these goals.

Every CFO needs to have a clear focus on the organization's objectives to determine the type of team required. The team should consist of capable individuals and delegation of work is essential. Not all team members can be involved in solving a ‘puzzle’; rather, each member must have specific responsibilities aligned with the ultimate goal/deliverable; all contributing towards solving that ‘puzzle’.

In any organisation, a CFO must work closely with the CEO in delivering the CEO's vision and goals for the Company. When the CEO has a clear vision of the goals, it becomes easier to steer the company in the right direction. Every team member should have a clear understanding of expectations and the path they need to follow. Lack of clarity can hinder progress and productivity.

Maintaining the status quo is not always the best approach. CFOs should foster an open-minded environment where questioning existing practices is encouraged. This allows for the evolution of new strategies and improved solutions. Additionally, effective time management is crucial to seize opportunities and meet deadlines promptly.

Effective communication within the team is crucial. Transparency and a focus on the organization's culture and goals are key. Simultaneously, CFOs need to manage all stakeholders effectively, including employees, investors, customers, partners, and suppliers, to develop strategies for goal achievement.

While maintaining overall control, a CFO should avoid micromanagement. While he would set the tone for the finance team, Delegation of authority and decision-making powers to managers is essential. Effective communication between team members is key to this. However, this communication should occur in a structured manner, ensuring the CFO's other responsibilities are not compromised. A successful company has a clear organizational structure. While CFOs need to keep an open mind regarding communications with employees who need to have access, this should happen in a structured manner. Striking a balance is crucial.

While the digital revolution has empowered the industry, agencies must be able to plan holistically and work with brands across all channels. While recruiting talent, it is important to ensure that individuals are equally proficient in both digital and traditional marketing. While executing digital strategies, Clients would still require consideration of other mediums. So an effective agency can understand billboards as effectively as online campaigns, guiding advertisers toward a unified approach.

Working as a team requires a willingness to give up individual preferences and embrace the qualities of teamwork. Hunger, readiness, and a proactive attitude toward challenges and opportunities are essential for every team member to make a successful team. Bickering only hinders progress. After all, a wolf pack has a better chance of bagging the largest prey than a loner. Personal skills should be appreciated and honed to contribute to the overall success of the organization. It is important to remember that yesterday’s contender can be tomorrow's valuable partner. There is no room for one-upmanship.

While acquisitions help drive the organisations’ strategy, M&A poses its own challenges to the management. Integrating the businesses at the earliest is critical for having a successful M&A. Acquisitions bring different cultures together. Agility and collaboration are key values vital for successful mergers. Faster both entities embrace joint values and align common goals, and the quicker the entrepreneurs work together driving group ambition and vision will be key to ensuring successful acquisitions. During mergers, it is important to evaluate if both sides share the same perspectives and approach challenges with a people-first mindset. It’s a bit like a marriage in which both must be transparent with each other throughout the journey. Even a small bit of doubt can lead to chaos.

Integrating talent after acquisitions and mergers can be a challenge. Before joining forces, it is crucial to ensure both entities share the same values and business philosophy. People are at the heart of this industry, and the mere amalgamation of technology and processes is insufficient. People, Processes and Technology are at the heart of any integration.

Creativity is still core in the industry, with data serving as the engine to enhance creative strategies. A creative mindset is essential for finding solutions to clients problems across all spectrums of an Agency and companies must foster a culture that promotes creativity.

Technological disruption is ongoing, and staying updated on the latest trends is essential. The three crucial aspects to focus on are voice (from a search perspective), video (as a growing driver online), and vernacular or regional growth.

By embracing digital marketing transformation and implementing effective strategies, marketing agencies can help clients navigate the evolving landscape, achieve growth, and deliver exceptional results.

CFOs need to bear these pointers in mind while driving the finance agenda and strategies for the businesses.

CFO Anand Bhadkamkar digital marketing agency Transitional transformations advertising industry finance Marketing LS Digital