In this installment of our MarketerInsights video series, Joe Koufman, CEO of AgencySparks, interviews Keith Duprey, Director of Segment Marketing for Interface. Keith talks about outsourcing marketing efforts, his agency search and selection process, and how he builds trust with agency partners. Keith derives his expertise on the subject matter from his impressive career path, which includes various marketing positions at some of the most recognized companies and brands in Atlanta, such as: Turner Broadcasting, Delta Airlines, and the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.

Keith joined Interface about fifteen months ago because of the remarkable culture they have around sustainability. Since he began working there, Keith has helped diversify and segment  Interface’s business, finding similarities and differences between their target audiences and industries, to create great, relevant campaigns. Interface is the world's largest designer and maker of carpet tile. As their website states, “Design is a mindset and sustainability is the journey of a lifetime.”

Here are some highlights from our interview with Keith:

Outsourcing versus in-house capabilities

“I typically start with understanding what my need is and trying to find agencies that have experience in that particular project, if you will,” Keith said. “For Interface, this need can be broad and strategic or more short-term, project-based depending on the situation.”

Interface wanted to better understand the customer decision journey, so they started working internally, but needed external help to do some primary and secondary research before developing the next phase.

There are many things to consider when  outsourcing marketing efforts. Ultimately, it depends on your organization and what you need to accomplish. Some companies will not outsource any activity that is core to their business. Other times, corporate marketers find themselves with limited resources as the industry evolves, or an unexpected change in the business requires expertise from a specialist agency focused on a niche set of skills.

Proper in-house advertising and marketing efforts depend largely on having a trained and enthusiastic staff. Once the marketing team has figured out the underlying issues –– like in the case of Interface where they needed to understand how their target audiences research flooring –– there may be an opportunity for you to begin discussions about leveraging more robust, in-depth resources from marketing agencies.

Agency search process

Since there are always new agencies and new leaders, Keith tends to consult people he trusts who have been in the marketing community for a long time. He has an idea of who they’re working with and why, but it isn’t the only place he starts.

He usually finds himself Googling a particular problem, opportunity, or project and, if an agency has done their homework, he might come across their website or relevant content. He explains, “There are a number of ways to finding an agency partner, and I often times use the Internet to do a lot of research beforehand.” You hear that, agencies? SEO matters!

Keith is pretty open to conversation when it comes to finding the best fit, sometimes the agencies have commercial or manufacturing industry expertise, or simply those that offer him an outside perspective.

He appreciates an agency’s new and interesting point of view, which, “... lets me know they're insightful and thoughtful about wanting to engage with me –– unlike a lot of people that attend a number of trade events where I am at –– and I get many emails everyday from agencies trying to do business in that particular medium.”

Keith expects agencies to be thought leaders when it comes to integrated marketing, and he’s always looking for agencies to take the initiative with creative new ideas that drive the business.

Building trust, and the importance of project management

Lack of trust often leads to a dysfunctional agency-client relationship (as you may have read several times on our blog). Keith touches on this, explaining that he, “...tend[s] to be very transparent, candid, and direct. I think that in general that leads to really healthy conversations. At the end of the day, I think it's pretty clear that I want what's best for my organization in general. That type of authenticity allows the agencies to quickly see that we are here together to do some good work.”

To create that awesome collaboration you have to have a shared vision. Does your agency truly understand you, and can they identify a core problem or an opportunity? When you master your client’s business and industry, you’ll be in a much better position to bring them great ideas. Keith uses key metrics to gauge marketing activities, which keeps everyone focused at the goal at hand.

Part of building that trust is also project management, which alleviates disorganization and miscommunication –– the bane of many marketing departments. The very best agencies are the ones that manage their resources well. Good project management results in great execution. Agencies that schedule meetings, allocate resources, and capture key takeaways from those meetings, make a successful marketer like Keith very happy. He mentions these three areas in particular that make him feel like his agency partner is completely in touch with what’s happening or not happening, and what needs to be done.

 

This post originally appeared on AgencySparks.com. All rights reserved. © 2014

 

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