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Big agencies are missing out on business due to inflexibility, argues OFX CMO

Big advertising agencies are missing out on opportunities to work with startups and small brands because they don’t have flexible business models, the chief marketing officer of currency exchange service OFX, Rebecca Shears, has told a room at Mumbrella360.

“The bigger agencies are probably missing out because they haven’t got those flexible models,” she said.

Panelists: John Ford, Rebecca Shears, Chris Gillespie, Michael Klim and David Morgan

“My experience of trying to work with bigger agencies is there’s still a resistance to work with a smaller brand and I would just say to anyone in those agencies, you are missing out because there is so much more creativity and interesting stuff you can do and you can be paid in a different way, by equity.

“There is a huge opportunity for the industry to get involved so they need to change their mindset and say ‘I am not only working on a brand that’s got this much budget’,” Shears said on the ‘Is the Startup and Innovation Economy Forgetting Marketing and Advertising?’ panel.

Michael Klim, former Olympic swimmer and co-founder of Milk & Co, said if agencies work with smaller brands and startups, they will also get the benefit of retained businesses.

“The agencies will get that repeat business because obviously the client will enjoy the process,” Klim added.

Shears also highlight how the marketing industry has changed, noting how much easier it is for brands, especially small ones, to bring media buying and social media in-house.

“It is a lot easier now to do things in-house, definitely media buying, social media and you can get a really good SEO strategy by having good writers in-house.

“But, you do need that mix of agency and in-house, it is very tempting to do it all yourself because a) you haven’t got the resources to go externally and b) you can control it more yourself, but fresh talent and fresh eyes from external people is always useful, so having a mix of both is the best of both worlds,” the CMO of OFX added.

Shears also offered advice to anyone starting up a company or in the early years of a business, encouraging them to invest in the brand early while return on investment is easy to prove.

“When you first start and have got momentum, it seems quite easy but as you grow you need to be pretty clear about who you are going after and what your proposition is and that’s where if you have invested upfront in the brand and your story and finding your voice it will help you in the long term.

“Invest in the brand early whilst there’s less pressure to prove the ROI.”

David Morgan, principle at Morgan, also said getting the finance right first is imperative, then brands can focus on the marketing.

“Get a good tax accountant and then once you have the tax right, are your people right? Is your distribution right? And then you get into the marketing branding piece, but when we get to the marketing branding piece, how do we do the marketing branding piece because we can’t afford large fees, we can’t afford large investment?”

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