Are you getting the most out of your agency relationships?

Key takeaways from our recent panel discussion

By now we don’t need to remind you of how Covid-19 has altered our World and impacted our businesses. More than ever before, businesses are having to be reactive with their marketing and to do so they are relying on stronger partnerships.

Recently we brought together our APS Strategy Director, Kate Cook, Tara McGregor-Woodhams, ex-Aegon and Standard Life Head of Marketing Communications and Vanessa Hofland, Studio Director at Albert Heijn (Ahold Delhaize), the largest Dutch supermarket chain, for our webinar on ‘The Changing Shape of Agency Models – which is the best one for you?’

What’s in a name?

Onsite, near-site, satellite, in-house and studio services are just a few of the names often associated with different agency models. But really, the name doesn’t matter, as long as the model works for you. We refer to our APS agency partnership as hybrid because it acknowledges our flexible and collaborative approach as you get to pick and choose what elements you need to make it successful for your brand.

Working with our hybrid model allows your existing in-house brand specialists and guardians, with all their insight and knowledge, to work alongside our agency who can provide a refreshing perspective and expertise and quicker speed to market. Your brand experience remains, but you can tap into new ideas, resources, efficiencies and specialisms.

Why change or review your current model?

Reacting quickly to changing environments with often reduced costs and little impact on output quality is a tough balance for marketers to get right. The acceleration of existing trends this year has been huge and no more so than within the agency landscape.

In 2019, ¾ of brand leaders moved their marketing and operations in-house and 65% of existing onsite agencies reported an increase in workload since Covid-19*. We expect this trend to continue and see agencies becoming more embedded within organizations due to current working conditions as well as a reliance on clear digital workflow technologies.

Vanessa from leading Dutch retailer, Albert Heijn, explained that their business is over 100 years old and had subsequently created hundreds of external partnerships over time. This meant that brand quality and consistency was difficult to manage, and they were often not close enough to the creation process. For them, the hybrid model simplified their approach to working and the collaborative nature has created a more positive workforce, better working relationships and ultimately a better output.

It’s vital when you are considering a change or adapting your current agency partnership, to make sure you have the right people on board, from managers in different departments right through to executive support. Tara McGregor-Woodhams, ex-Aegon and Standard Life, explained the huge value of aligned technology in a hybrid agency model, such as workflow systems for efficiency, but noted that the success of this needs full support from stakeholders, such as your in-house IT Department.

So what steps should you take once you decide a hybrid agency model is right for you?

1. Create a robust businesses case including:

  • An audit of your current activities over the last 12 months
  • Audit your roster of agency partners
  • Analyze all your costs including retainer fees/production/print/licenses/rate cards etc
  • Review your internal team costs to work and work out what their equivalent day rate would be with an agency
  • Define the objectives of your business for the next 2-3 years and how marketing will support this. E.G. more video production

2. Craft the model that will work best for you. Use your business case analysis to show where you may have talent gaps but also determine what external partners you may want to keep and work alongside the hybrid agency
3. Get an exec champion on board
4. Take your time, take it step by step and take learnings from each stage.
5. Ensure you have the right technology in place to make the model efficient. It’s vital you have a cloud-based workflow system in place including modules such as; a Digital Asset Manager and Brand Portal.
6. Set your KPIs and constantly review progress
7. Be transparent with your objectives so all agency partners are working together towards the same goal and they have clear role responsibilities to fulfill

At APS we successfully deliver hybrid agency models into different brands across many sectors. We create a collaborative and creative model that is underpinned by our unique technology systems.

To request a recording of the webinar or for more information on any of our services please contact us at

* Source: ANA, Association of National Advertisers, Marketeers Survey