Agency invites clients to outsource CMO role as it widens embedded team model

Communications agency The Conscience Organisation has launched a new model in which small and medium sized brands can outsource their chief marketing officer function to the agency.

Training startup Skilled Up Education is the first to sign up for the service, with The Conscience Organisation’s CEO Clive Burcham assuming CMO responsibilities with a brief to deliver a full rebrand. It follows previous steps by the agency which has seen it embed its staff within brand teams at Nestlé and Macquarie University.


Burcham, left, will assume CMO responsibilities for Jake Williams’ Skilled Up

Skilled Up Education is a training provider led by entrepreneur Jake Williams who was previously behind the  ‘Spot Jobs’ job board.

Williams said he opted for the model to better make use of assets already existing within Skilled Up, including customer data that was not yet being utilised in its marketing efforts. He said: “The data exists and there are people who know how to interpret and use it, so if you can find a CMO you trust then that’s an aspect of the business you can comfortably step away from and focus your talents elsewhere.”

Burcham said: “We plan to relaunch Skilled Up Education with an entirely new brand and positioning at the beginning of 2017. This collaboration is a toe-in-the-water exercise aimed at entrepreneurial partners.”

The move is an evolution of a model developed by The Conscience Organisation in which the agency has embedded what it labels “Together Teams” within Macquarie University and Nestle.

The in-sourced agency staff group at Nestle is known as the Digital Acceleration Team and is designed to offer strategic and creative development, along with media and community management from within the business in a faster and more efficient way than the traditional client-agency model.

TCO's insourced teams return to the agency on a weekly basis

TCO’s insourced teams return to the agency on a weekly basis

The team – which has been in place for five years – works on digital channels for 15 Nestlé brands including Allens, KitKat, Milo, Milky Bar and Maggi.

Burcham said: “Marketers are keenly aware the challenge to the creative services industry is to implement systems that let us build brands more efficiently, cutting out the unnecessary ‘faff’ that plagues the classic agency relationship.

“They want to avoid arbitrary meetings, travel expenses, repeated death by slideshow, communication breakdown, which all lead to outputs that lose sight of the original brief.

“Instead, we try to put our brains inside the client’s building, cut out the faff, increase output and lower costs”.

He added: “Having experts in-house means they’re always available for advice or assistance. The constant contact and communication streamlines processes and helps the marketing team develop skill sets that are traditionally agency-exclusive. Working in-house, these teams live and breathe the brand, giving them a strong understanding of the business, its objectives, processes and tone.”

Antonia Farquhar, head of media and brand experience for Nestlé, said: “Bringing The Conscience Organisation into Nestlé as a single internal team quickly improved the quality of thinking, the depth of collaboration, and the creative output. It also made the learnings easier to share across the breadth of the business.”

Richard Bennett, Head of Digital for Nestlé, said: “Bringing The Conscience Organisation‘s values into the business has ensured the team maintain a tenacious, disruptive and courageous approach to our digital marketing – values we believe essential in ensuring DAT delivers best in class expertise.”

TCO has also completed what it says was a successful one-year trial of the outsourced marketing role with Macquarie University, which has now become a permanent arrangement.

Bucham said: “As we assimilate into the marketing team, it’s important not to lose the structure of support and development that makes agency teams so effective. Our embedded teams are still part of the greater agency picture. This means providing them with support from The Conscience Organisation HQ whilst equipping marketing partners with senior contacts to consult.”

Burcham said he also aims to keep staff part of the agency culture even when embedded with clients for a long period of time. He said: “At its heart, our teams remain an extension of The Conscience Organisation. They re-join the rest of the company every Friday, where they can share insights and draw inspiration from their teammates. Keeping the Together Teams independent to their brands allows them to bring an external expertise and inject a creative agency inspired vibrancy, culture and attitude into a corporate environment.”


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