Index 1. Introduction 2. Methodology 2.1 Qualitative research 2.2 Limitations 2.3 Value of research 3. Literature review 4. Who’s doing it? 5.

Organisation/Brand views 5.1 Business Connexion 5.2 Sasol 5.3 Black River F.C 6. To customise or not to customise, that is the question 6.1 Business Connexion 6.2 Sasol 7. The outcome 8. So what does this show and what needs to be considered? 9. In conclusion 10. Appendix 10.1 Diagram 1 10.2 Brand audit mind map elaboration 10.3 Diagram 2 11 Bibliography 14 15 16 16 17 22 24 26 26 27 30 31 2 4 4 4 5 5 9 10 10 12


Introduction A consumer does not purchase Colgate toothpaste, they purchase fresh breath, or white teeth, a consumer does not purchase Levi’s pants, they purchase a certain image. If one looks back in the path of marketing, the industry shifted from the inside-out approach, this being companies offering consumers products, to the outside-in approach, in which the consumer dictates what they want from a company, and the companies brand tries to meet this need the best way it can. This was further adapted to a point where the consumer has the opportunity to customise their product. Levi’s now gives the consumer the chance to customise the fit of their jeans; Nike allows the consumer to customise colours and designs on certain shoes. This has been a large success for these, and other brands, by allowing their consumers to be more involved in the product they are purchasing as well as developing a positive image and relationships with consumers. So how does the first paragraph tie in with the above? Well consider for a moment the business–to-business environment. An advertising agency is the service/product a company purchases. For example, Transnet purchased the services of Brand Leadership group this year for a re-branding campaign. However, Transnet did not purchase a redesigned logo, or new website. They purchased an image, an outcome of the work Brand Leadership group would do and they purchased the fresh breath of Colgate. With this in mind, as well as the shift in marketing as mentioned above, the step that is missing is the option for a client/brand to receive a customised offering from the advertising agency? termed the trend, customer-made trend. They define is as follows: CUSTOMER-MADE: “The phenomenon of corporations creating goods, services and experiences in close cooperation with experienced and creative consumers, tapping into their intellectual capital, and in exchange giving them a direct say in (and rewarding them for) what actually gets produced, manufactured, developed, designed, serviced, or processed.” They continue by stating “Co-creating with your customers is the most important trend to watch. Not because everything has to or will be co-created in the 2

future, but because tapping into the collective experiences, skills and ingenuity of hundreds of millions of consumers around the world is a complete departure from the inward looking, producer- versus-consumer innovation model so common to corporations around the world.” “In fact, customer-made may turn out to be one of the most exciting and long term engines behind change and innovation that the world of business has seen in years: a way of thinking that has the power to redefine the relationship between customer and brand, between consumer and producer, something that taps into the most awesome reservoir of intellectual capital ever assembled.” Therefore the questioned posed in this research paper is this: Is there a need or ability for an agency to adapt its expertise to best suite its client’s brand? Can and should an agency customise or personalise its services? This will investigate a zero-based approach to all work done for each brand. This does however also pose the question, is standardising the offerings of an agency prove more effective and appealing to a clients brand. The areas that will be investigated will be the auditing process the agency undertakes and what elements are essential for an agency to understand about its client’s brand before undertaking any work for them. As well as how the client themselves believe an agency should adapt to best market their brand. The views and opinions of an advertising Agency are also considered. It is important to note that this research paper is focused on how the adaptation of customisation and personalisation would affect clients and brands; therefore the focal point is from the client, being the consumers, view point.


Methodology Research Methodology is defined by Van der Wal (2005: 8) as follows: The research methodology describes the methods that will be used to collect data as well as the reliability and validity of such data. Qualitative Research Wiseman (1979:114) states; Qualitative research starts with a few ideas, clues and hunches. They conduct studies by utilizing field research and comparing previous studies to their findings. Neuman (2003:16) suggests that qualitative research involves constructing social reality and cultural meaning from information gathered. The researcher focuses on interactive processes and events, and the authenticity of information is key on this approach. The values are present and explicit within the research, which is constrained to the situation, there are few cases, few subjects and the researcher is involved in the research process. Qualitative Research was conducted on two major brands who were used as case studies in this research paper; Sasol and Business Connexion. Interviews were conducted either via e-mail, telephonically or in in-depth interviews. As well as research conducted on Black River F.C agency. Business Connexion and Sasol both use the services of Jupiter Drawing room for advertising. Business Connexion also uses Fleishman Hillard for Public Relations work, while Sasol uses CrossPalace for below the line advertising.

Limitations Unfortunately due to strict confidentiality rules, a large number of brands and agencies were not allowed to convey the information I required. Therefore the two brands were used as case studies, as well as the agency.


Value of research It is hoped that this research paper will draw attention to a topic that may be able to give agencies differentiation and competitive edge. It is also the hope that further research can be done on this topic

Literature Review The significant cost-saving benefits of a standardised marketing programme and the emergence of large homogenous segments of customers across the world are often used to argue for greater standardisation, while those that propose adaptation point to the continuing, often extreme, difference between nations and brands in terms of culture, stages of economic and market development, political and legal systems, customer values and lifestyles. (Goldman. 2005:66). Godin (2005:24) states “I don’t think there’s a shortage of remarkable ideas. I think your business has plenty of great opportunities to do great things. Nope, what is missing isn’t the ideas, it’s the will to execute them.” The old rule was: Create safe, ordinary products and combine them with great marketing. The new rule is: Create remarkable products that the right people seek out. (Godin, 2005:16) Instead of trying to use your technology and expertise to make a better product for your users’ standard behaviour, experiment with inviting the users to change their behaviour to make the product work dramatically better. (Godin, 2005:26) In an effort to reduce uncertainty for the future, organisations engage in marketing research. Marketing research is described as the systematic collection and processing of facts and data and the presentation of subsequent findings upon which management decisions may be based. This definition illustrates that marketing research is a pre5

planned, orderly process directed at resolving a specific management problem or issue. (Nieman & Bennet, 2002:179) With high levels of competition and excess capacity in virtually every industry, strong brands help companies differentiate themselves in the market and communicate why their products and services are uniquely able to satisfy customer’s needs. In an environment in which the functional differences between products and services has been narrowed to the point of near invisibility by the adoption of Total Quality management, brands provide the basis for establishing meaningful differences between apparently similar offers. Competitive advantage now depends on being able to satisfy not just the functional requirements of your customer, but also their more intangible needs. It means understanding not just what your product can do for them, but also what they can mean to them. Haigh (2001) Haighs continues (2001) Branding is the process of transforming essential functional assets into relationship assets by providing a basis for a physiological connection between the brand and the customer. This ability to endow a product, service or company with emotional significance over and above its functional value is a substantial source of value creation. Business process intangibles: These include unique ways of organising the business including innovative business models, flexible manufacturing techniques and supply chain configuration. (Edvinsson & Malone, 2001:18) Stop playing the game differently, play a different game. Dissimilarity is the differentiator of the future. People don’t want to be treated in a similar manner; they are begging to be treated in a dissimilar fashion. (The Fearless Executive)

According to Alice Andersson (2007), Compatible for your brand, or previous history and expertise, a combination of both these elements is required when selecting an agency. 6

Agencies that are compatible with our brand will instinctively deliver appropriate solutions and are more likely to work well with the in-house management team. Previous history and expertise are important in assessing whether a company is able to deliver to requirements and if it will be compatible with the brand. Vertenten (2001) claims: “The audit process ensures that the BCM process remains current and viable in line with organisational changes and current BCM practice. This process should ideally be carried out by an independent auditor that can be external or internal - to ensure objectivity. As with exercising, the audit should be conducted at a minimum of an annual basis. It is desirable to use a recommended industry audit process, which facilitates benchmarking.” The successful organisation of the future will be customer-focused, not product or technology focused, supported by a market-information competence that links the voice of the customer to all the firms value-delivery process….Successful marketing organisations will have the skills necessary to manage multiple strategic marketing process, many of which have not, until recently, been regarded as within the domain of marketing. (Webster, 1997:3) – Marketing strategy and comp post) The marketing concept holds that achieving organisational goals depends on determining the needs and wants of target markets and delivering the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors do. (Kotler, 1996:7) - Marketing strategy and comp post) According to Ansoff (quoted by Hill 1979; 179),” …when the future becomes less visible, when the fog descends, the forecasting horizon that you can trust comes closer and closer to your nose. In those circumstances being receptive to new directions becomes important. You need to take account of opportunities and threats and enhance organisations responsiveness.” A company is either customer focused from top to bottom, or it simply is not customer focused…To become genuinely customer focused you have to be prepared to change your culture, processes, systems and organisation. (Cox, 1995:519) 7

Tilly (2007) claims that through creating a relationship with clients and not just being a supplier of a service, an agency can create trust and commitment with their clients and this is past on by the clients. After hypothesising the advertising industry at the moment there are definite things that need to change and that the agencies need to realise and accept that transformation is necessary. (Xane, 2006:14) Binikos (2007) states: “An important driver is trust. The line between client and agency needs to be cut. Agencies must stop seeing themselves as suppliers and see themselves as partners with clients. This is a challenge for agencies, but none the less, the agency and the client have to hold hands and jump off the cliff together.” Klaus Moser (2007) claims “my expectation is that the future of mass customization lays in the bundling of customized product and service offerings in order to fulfill people's overall and not only single needs – I have not seen such an offering so far.” Piller (2007) writes: Mass customisation refers to a customer co-design process of products customer co-design process needs of each individual customer with regard and services which meet the needs of each individual customer with regard to certain product features. All operations are performed within a fixed solution space, characterized by stable but still flexible and responsive processes. As a result, the costs associated with customization allow for a price level that does not imply a switch in an upper market segment. Customers gain from customization the increment of utility of a good that better fits to their needs than the best standard product attainable. The larger the heterogeneity of all customers' preferences, the larger is this gain in utility. From a managerial point of view, customization can be carried out with regard to fit, style, and functionality. To match the level of customization offered by a manufacturer with the customers' needs becomes a major success factor.


"For decades, consumers have been saving up their insights and rant about the stuff they consume, simply because there were no adequate means to interact with companies, or with other consumers for that matter, no longer. These fickle, wired, empowered, informed, opinionated and experienced holders of a MC (Master of Consumerism) are getting used to 'having it their way', in any way imaginable, which includes wanting to have direct influence on what companies develop and produce for them.” (

Who’s doing it? In terms of brands conducting personalisation or customisation, or just getting their clients more involved in the brand, here are a few examples that have been very successful in getting their consumers in put: • Last August, Converse Gallery was launched. The site features dozens of 24second films, made by Converse fans, who are asked to express what Converse shoes mean to them. The chosen films are then broadcast on Converse's website, with the possibility of being aired on MTV and other cable networks. • Cadillac invited members to contribute to their series of five second commercials, which illustrated the speed of its CTS-V model, which can accelerate from zero to 60 in five seconds ("what ever you do, don't blink"). Amateur filmmakers could submit their own 5-second spots (and win air time), with one of the chosen directors also getting the keys to a brand new CTS-V. • Procter & Gamble, which launched its dedicated ‘Connect + Develop’ program about five years ago, with the goal of having at least 50% of its new products derived from ideas generated by non-employee experts. Beside its own R&D employee base of 7,000, the company now has access to millions of potential innovators. • The BBC is actively encouraging customers to submit pictures and videos, which may then be used immediately on any BBC News outlet, or end up in the ‘In Pictures’ of the BBC website. Cleverly, not only does the BBC tell citizen 9

reporters where to email their content to, they also provide a cell phone number, so camera phone pictures can be MMS-ed instantly. These are just examples of organisations getting their consumers involved in the brand and using this as a massive data-base of information right at their finger-tips. Should advertising agencies be doing this, could they be using the knowledge and innovative ideas from outsiders and clients to better adapt their services?

Organisation/ Brand views Business Connexion: As outlines, Business Connexion strives to have the flexibility and close client relationships of a small and mobile organisation, and the power and diversity of a large organisation. Our client relationships are functional in the sense that they focus on the integration of business solutions. In an on going quest to deliver innovative solutions that add real business value to clients, Business Connexion combines its own expertise, tools, resources and vertical sector knowledge with that of its partners. The Group believes that innovation will shape the sustainability of the 21st century enterprise and an innovation programme is a key element of the company's internal business improvement strategy. Alice Anderrson discussed her views on how Business Connexion initially selects and agency for its services. Alice claims that; a combination of both compatibility and previous history and experience are elements that are required. Agencies that are compatible with their brand will instinctively deliver appropriate solutions and are more likely to work well with the in-house management team. Previous history and expertise are important in assessing whether a company is able to deliver to requirements and if it will be compatible with the brand. According to Business Connexion, agencies are generally selected through a pitch process which involves: 10

Inviting companies to express interest in the work and submit their credentials. (Information that is important here includes things like BEE status, previous experience, client list, size, footprint, etc.)

A shortlist of companies meeting Business Connexion's partnership requirements is then drawn up. Each company on the short list is given a brief and asked to present a proposal to an in-house team who assesses each presentation. (As an example, issues used for this assessment of prospective advertising agencies included: strategy, creative, media, costing and general impression.)

A contract is then negotiated with the selected company.

It can be seen here that before an attempt to customise any offerings, that the agencies that have similar views and cultures, i.e. they are compatible with Business Connexion will be the agencies that offer appropriate and desired solutions. Does this illustrate that agencies need not customise but rather focus on brands that they are compatible with? Business Connexion continues with offering their beliefs of what an agency should know about a brand before undertaking any marketing efforts for the brand: An agency should understand the:
• • • • • • • • •

Environment (political, economic, social, technological, regulatory) Industry (including competitor value propositions, differentiators and strategies) Company offerings including value propositions and differentiators Stakeholders and target markets Company culture Corporate identity Brand values and essence Past investments and approaches to advertising and brand positioning Current marketing strategies and plans

Anderrson also believes that relationships are critical to the success of every endeavour. She claims that an agency should be seen as an extension of a company’s in-house team and that regular status meetings should be held to monitor progress and address issues as 11

they arise. It can be deduced from this that Business Connexion does not necessarily seek a customised service from its outsourced agencies, but rather an understanding of its brand and the elements that make up the brand. It is also evident that Business Connexion would rather see their outsourced agency as an extension of its in-house team. Is this more of a partnership than a customised offering? If so how great is the gap between customisation and a partnership in this sense? Sasol: Sasol describes itself as: Sasol is a competitive company that is driven to excel. Our intent is to be a respected global enterprise and we aim to generate sustainable growth for stakeholders. With this in mind, we compete in coal, oil, gas, fuels, chemicals and related markets where we have distinct competitive advantages. We capitalise on our ability to develop, enhance and apply technologies for the production and marketing of competitive products and services. We strive to be the preferred supplier to customers through the delivery of quality products and superior service. We develop mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers. We seek out new business opportunities, including synergistic alliances. Sasol creates an environment where teams of dedicated people who are characterised by their diversity of skills and background can grow to their full potential through development, empowerment, recognition, respect and involvement in a safe and healthy working environment. We respect the communities where we operate and participate in their growth. We conduct our business activities with integrity and in compliance with internationally accepted principles and practices. Finally, we mould the shared values of our diversity into one formidable brand, founded on customer focus, winning with people, safety, excellence in all we do, continuous improvement and integrity. 12

Palesa Matlejoane who is the Advertising Specialist for the Sasol Group gave her opinion on how Sasol selects agencies. Matlejoane sates that when selecting agencies a number of things are important: Firstly a Pitch is done; from there a short list is drawn up where things like BEE status, size and previous history are considered. Once this is done the following are considered: • • • The agency needs to be a strategic thinking agency The agency needs to offer innovative, holistic solutions for Sasol and have a synergistic view point Not a traditional focused agency

Matlejoane claims that previous agencies used lacked a zero-based, media neutral approach. She claims that it is important that the agency think out of the box and offer creative solutions for Sasol. Matlejoane made it very clear that Sasol seeks an agency that will be a brand custodian. She states “gone are the days when you tell consumers what to do, its all about relationships now.” She continues to explain that an agency needs to ensure that every communication sent out will add to brand equity. Sasol believes that before an agency undertakes any work for them, they need to understand important elements: • • • Sasol is made up of 14 business units and 5years ago these became 1 holistic entity. Sasol works mainly in the business-to-business environment, however retails is very important in the South African market Very importantly, the agency needs to know how to communicate the business correctly to maintain Sasol’s reputation.

Palesa Matlejoane stressed that the relationship is no longer good enough; the agency needs to develop a partnership with the client. Sasol originally went into the pitching process seeking for a small to medium agency; the reasons behind this was that this way, 13

Sasol would be treated as important and receive a far more personal touch as to apposed to being a client to an agency with a large number of big clients, where your importance is stunted. From this it is evident that Sasol acknowledges the importance of an agency being involved and completely submerged into its clients brand, this way being able t make educated, well informed decisions. This is so important that Palesa Matlejoane claim that if this is not evident within the first 3months of recruiting an agency, Sasol knows it will not be a successful venture. Black River F.C Ahmed Tilly, Creative Director of Black River F.C states clearly and simply “Black River F.C has one main goal and that is to solve clients problems, not only create good adverts or to simply create a business solution, but to solve clients problems in a creative, exciting way by providing kick-ass work.” Paul Binikos, Account manager furthers this by stating, “Creating a relationship with the clients rather than just being a supplier is very important, if it’s playing a game of fooseball with the client or going for drinks, becoming friends with the client helps build a sense of trust between agency and client, and with this trust comes long term relationships.” So it can be said that by developing these in-depth relationships with clients the ad agency is adopting a personalised touch to its work. The agency understands its client and their brand therefore can make educated decisions for the brand. This illustrates an already existing personalised approach that agencies undertake. This offers a chance to consider that perhaps the importance lies not in the focus of a customised service, but rather the knowledge and relationships developed around clients and agencies. It could also be said however that a combination of these relationships, knowledge of the brand as well as a strict zero-based approach creates the shell for “the customised offering”


To customise or not to customise, that is the question It is at this stage where the question of: What can, or what should be customised, will be answered. If one takes into consideration all the elements that an agency needs to understand about a brand, one process will stick out, the Brand Audit process. In Diagram 1, as well as the brand audit elaboration, a mind map illustrates a wide span of information a brand has to offer. It is here where an agency can decide on which elements are vital for a successful campaign or branding endeavour and by analysing and selecting the appropriate and effective elements the agency has begun a personalised offering. One could however pose the question. Shouldn’t all these elements be considered for each and every brand? The answer would be yes. By undertaking a zero-based approach each and every time work is undertaken for a brand, the agency would be gathering the information needed to deliver a service best suited for the brand, but by selecting the elements that are relevant for the client’s brand. Is this not personalisation? Can this lead to the agency offering a customised approach? As mentioned this research paper will be using two Brands as case studies, Sasol and Business Connexion. The views of these two brands are as follows:

Business Connexion: Alice Andersson of Business Connexion believes that Theoretical constructs, methodologies and best-practice approaches should be standardised. These should be 15

used to inform a customised approach for each client. She claims that Business Connexion approaches agencies for two reasons (a) to obtain expert advice from specialists and (b) for assistance in implementation. Agencies should always be seen to be adding value by providing expertise / input that is not available within the company. It is evident here that instead of a complete customised approach, Business Connexion is using the services of Jupiter Drawing Room and Fleishman Hillard for their expertise and knowledge, rather like one going to a dentist for a professional opinion, due to the dentists experience and knowledge. However Alice does claim that the areas that are critical and most important for an agency to understand before tailoring their services are the objectives of campaign and the environment in which the company operates. So once the standardised methodology and theoretical constructs are developed, the information and outcomes of these can then be used, by the agency to customise or personalise approach. Sasol: Palesa Matlejoane makes a very clear point and one that opens a new question within this research paper. She claims that agencies should have a personalised approach and be willing to customise. However she states that large agencies don’t have the resources to do this for all their clients and it is because of this that Sasol was seeking for a small to medium agency. Matlejoane believes that when an agency has fewer clients, it has the opportunity, time and resources to completely understand the brand of its client and is willing to personalise, be it out of fear of losing the contract or because it has more of a relationship with the brand is irrelevant. The point is that by personalising and customising the agencies services are more appealing to clients due to the fact that the client knows they will receive a more focused service. Matlejoane claims that the “Tried and trusted” standardised way of doing work “completely sucks, those models don’t work anymore.” Sasol believes that the agencies success will lie in the client services. An agencies job is service; therefore it should acknowledge the power on the consumer.


With this in mind Sasol claims that for an agency to tailor their services they need to focus on the relationship between client servise and client as well as a balance between strategy and creative as well as a balance between media and creative. From this it can be seen that Sasol believes that a more personalised service is what it takes, they believe that by having the agency evolved on a more ‘partnership’ basis is important.

The outcome From the research conducted a list was developed which includes what agency and clients believe may be some of the most important aspects and areas for an agency to have knowledge about in the attempt of personalisation or customisation: The first step in acquiring the information necessary for personalisation is for the agency to gain information on a number of aspects. Firstly....: • • • • • • The brands heritage (this may be a main differentiator) The personality and/or image the brand holds The perceived identity the brand holds (internally and externally) A general understanding of what the brand is and what it offers. Any important selling points or other aspects that the brand “owns”. Previous marketing and communication used

The reason for this step is to assist the members of the agency working on the project to understand and develop knowledge around the brand they will be working with. This offers a mutual understanding between client and agency as well as offering guidelines and outlines for the agency. (This phrase is used loosely, the step merely gives the strategists and creatives a starting point and direction)


It is important to note that this information is strictly from the clients. Further research may be done by the agency for more informative, less bias statistics. The next step is specifically aimed at understanding what the client wants from the agency. This includes: • • • • • The objectives wished to achieve Ideas or suggestions Previous satisfactions/dissatisfactions Important aspects client wants included( this can be very broad, but will be dissected later) Information regarding the campaign(for example: budget, desire length of campaign) Through this step the agency can develop an understanding of what the client would like to achieve and the agency can determine its ability to deliver on these needs. It is very important that the agency pays attention to the objectives the client needs accomplished, it is through this that a path can be determined on how the agency can meet these needs in a way tailored for the brand. It is important to remember however that even though the client’s ideas and input is very important, it is the agency that is getting paid for its experience and ability; therefore it important that the client understands and accepts the agencies ability and expertise. (This is obviously easier said that done).

Once the agency has an understanding of the brand and a clear understanding of what the client wants, the agency can begin to dissect the brand, identifying key elements. This step concerns itself with understanding the internal aspects of the company: • • Brand standards, policies and overall brand management Brand structure: brand extensions, families, range etc. 18

• • •

The ways the company lives its brand The companies efforts concerning employees Elements internally that can be leveraged or avoided.

This step somewhat furthers upon the first by generating understanding of the internal workings of the company, however with one difference: this step aims at identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that may be identified and leveraged for the benefit of the company. The further use of this information will be evident when the time comes for the agency to compare the clients brand to that of competitors. The steps to follow will also have the same importance.

This step is arguably one of the most important steps. The identification and understanding of the clients target audience for its brand(s). Once again it is important to remember this is the information acquired FROM the client in the auditing process, and this point is stressed, because further research will be done throughout the actual marketing process, but the information obtain here from the client is the starting point for personalising/customisation the agency will be offering. The information required from the client covers: • • • • • Market segmentation: size, location, trends Customer profiles Buying practices Demographics, psychographics, lifestyles etc. Any other important information regarding the target audience (example: what differences the clients Target audiences have that differ from those of the competitors) The client will have a far deeper and more detailed understanding of its target audience 19

(in most cases) than the agency, therefore this knowledge needs to be tapped into as much as possible. A note: the access to this knowledge is not limited to the briefing stage of the project, the client will be available through the account manager, however this stage of the project offers a perfect chance to gain this information.

It is evident that by this stage of the process the information being supplied by the client is rather detailed, it is thus the reason that the next step is the discussion of the brand(s) personality: • • • • • • Name, logo, slogan Packaging Style and character Advertising (previous and current) Promotion (previous and current), promotion material Publicity

Within this step and very closely related is the discussion of positioning: • • • Competitive positioning Positioning attributes Image perception

The reason the personality and positioning is chosen to work together in this step is that very often the personality attribute or identity of the brand is what positions it (within the consumers mind). Therefore the information gained in these two topics (used as separate steps or not) should be closely examined. This step, with relation to the previous step is aimed at identifying elements or aspects of the brand that can be used to differentiate or already differentiates the brand from those of competitors. These could include information on:


• • • • • •

Price, quality Customer service Leadership (leader of follower – related to position) Ownership of attribute(s) Heritage (already covered in step1) Product superiority (or position held)

The importance of having the ability to differentiate the clients brand(s) can be seen in the point of this being the cornerstone or first building block of generating a unique, personalised offering by the agency. It can be seen that by gaining such information, the agency is already gaining insight into the client’s brand, to level in which unique, creative solutions can begin to develop. The step to follow encompasses all those that have past already with one main difference; they are directed at the clients brand competitors. It is of utmost importance for a keen understanding of the competitors and their strategies. Information that is needed may include: • • • • • • Identify key competitors Identify their strengths and weaknesses What differentiates them Competitors position/personality and Brand identity Mistakes competitors have made Comparisons in terms of: Awareness, market share, perceived quality, brand loyalty and other brand equity aspects By identifying gaps or opportunities the agency can use to their benefit requires in depth information of the competitors. Once again it is recommended (and more so here) that the agency conduct their own research on the topic too. 21

It is important to take note that the steps mentioned above are merely suggestions, and highlights of the important areas agencies can focus on, it is NOT a model, or process suggested for an agency to use (this would be a complete contradiction of the point) rather guide lines for the information required by the agency to develop a personalised offering. Therefore the model that is recommended is shown in Diagram 2.

So what does this show and what needs to be considered? Sasol and Business Connexion as well as Black River F.C. and a number of writers have agreed on the importance of developing a relationship between the client and the agency. It was shown that these relationships lead to a number of things such as trust, understanding, and long term goals and a deep and genuine understanding and knowledge of the brand. It was also stated that organisations turn to agencies for their expertise and knowledge. By outsourcing work to these agencies, the organisation acknowledges the fact that experts are required to conduct the work, however by doing so the agency should be seen as an extension of the organisations in-house team, this once again strengthening the relationship view. By integrating a customised offering, consumers get what Klaus Moser defines as Customer Integration; Customer integration describes a mode of value creation in which customers are taking part in both operational and innovational value creating activities which used to be seen as the domain of the firm.

Klaus Moser also makes a very important note, which covers the difference between customisation and personalisation; “Personalisation must not be mixed up with 22

customisation. While customisation relates to changing, assembling or modifying product or service components according to customers' needs and desires, personalisation involves intense communication and interaction between two parties, namely customer and supplier. Personalisation in general is about selecting or filtering information objects for an individual by using information about the individual (the customer profile) and then negotiating the selection with the individual.” This perhaps illustrates that what is occurring currently in relationship development is more personalisation, and still offers an opportunity for agencies to customise. Consider the brand, Weigh-less. Weigh-less offers a service, but for this service to be effective it needs to have up-to-date, in-depth details about it’s users and then offers suggestions and eating plans are developed for each consumer. Could this not be the case in the agency process? Once the services of the agency are called upon, it is both the client/brand as well as the agencies responsibility to make sure there is an understanding and up-to-date information being communicated both ways, as to allow an agency to personalise its offering and to open an opportunity to customise its expertise to suite the clients brand or, as suggested to grow the relationship. In the case of differentiating, the agency could use the approach of personalisation and customisation to its advantage. In marketing there is the rare occurrence where being unable to compete with the market leaders may provide a pathway to a unique position that may assist in the differentiation between your brand and the competitors brand. claim that in an almost ironic twist, customer-made approach is turning out to be a great vehicle for finding employment, as it helps companies recruit their next in-house designer, guerrilla advertising agency or brilliant strategist. The research gathered and experts opinions highlights that currently, advertising agencies do offer a personalised service, to what degree however largely depends on the relationship the agency has with the client. And that with trust and time and knowledge of the brand, the agency may allow client to have input to a degree that the end product could be customised, i.e. it will have the clients input.


In Conclusion With the research conducted, the outcome led to this research paper having an open ending. No one thing was identified as the correct path, what was identified was this: Just as the marketing environment has changes to the point of consumers having ultimate power as well as the instant gratification approach, advertising agencies need to change to suite clients powers as consumers. Do to consumer power, brands need to entertain and delight consumers in an attempt to gain their interest. Agencies need to find new ways of getting their brand to the consumers, with the right message at every point of contact. Agencies need to become partners with their clients, which mean they need to understand and become the brand. For personalisation or customisation to occur, an agency will have to be relatively small with fewer clients, this way allowing for recourses to indulge in each brand. Clients, just as consumers of everyday consumable goods, no longer want to be treated in a similar manner. Each client wants their brand to be understood and communicated in the way that they now and love their brand. This leaves very few options but for agencies, being the supplier, to acknowledge their consumers ‘power’ and focus on the importance of relationship building. On the other spectrum though, there are clients that want the agencies expertise and methods that have been standardised and proven to work. In such cases it would be important however for the agency to maintain media-neutral, zero-based approaches and to build on the relationships of clients in an attempt to best suite their expertise to the client’s brand. It can be said that from both sides of the spectrum, the need to develop relationships is a pivotal element needed for any of the discussed to be considered, and as soon as an agency educates itself on elements of its clients brand, it has the opportunity to begin to personalise its services. To what degree however will depend on the agencies views and 24

beliefs, as well as the needs and wants of its clients. Therefore the advantages of personalising and considering a customised services has been shown as a valued approach, however also proven is it is not an essential element to have but with no doubt one that could have beneficial outcomes for the advertising agency.

Appendix Diagram 1




Market Segment


Differentiato r



Brand audit mind map elaboration:


1. Internal: Brand management: Organisation Customer service Budget Policy Continuity Brand standards Brand education Brand structure: Mega brand Brand families Brand extensions 2. Market segments: Market definition: Size Location Maturity Trends Customer profile Buying practices 3. Personality: Elements: Name Logo Slogan Style Character Packaging Advertising Promotions Promotional material Publicity

4. Positioning: Competitive positioning Positioning attributes 27

Image perceptions 5. Differentiators: Price Quality Customer service Breadth of line Leadership Market specialty Being the newest Own an attribute Product superiority Heritage First in category 6. Metrics: Impact: Life cycle Customer life value Price premium Market share Profitability Image: Awareness Recognition Relevance Preference Loyalty Brand equity: Brand loyalty Name awareness Perceived quality Associations Other assets • • The above must be applied to competitive Brands as well Diagram 2

Suggested Model 28



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