by Phil Daniels, with contributions from Bryan Kreher

Cognitive dissonance: mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values

You, as a brand marketer, operate in an extremely complex environment where both time and money are often in short supply.  To help increase the hours in a given day, brand managers often rely on various agency partners to help in program and tactical delivery.

The cadence of the programs often varies, as does the taxonomy and the data is spread to the four winds. Getting you a cross-site or multi-brand view can be a challenge in these environments. The result is you often bring in yet another partner to tie these threads together. But it’s what happens next that is revealing.

After you conduct an initial kickoff meeting, a few weeks go by and the flurry of activities seems to have slowed. Upon inquiring, you are told that Agency X is slow walking the promised data, Agency Y is sending incorrect data every other week, and Agency C just can’t seem to get out of their own way.

So, a conversation has to be had. A rather delicate conversation. And you are a bit peeved.

The partner brought in to tie the data together is on the hook for generating insights and recommendations. Timely insights are not available and you can’t understand why this is so difficult.

But, here’s the rub: You’ve hired a partner to surface multi-channel insights but you haven’t empowered them to crack the whip. When faced with the reality of uncooperative agencies, you blanche a bit and say, “I don’t want to get involved at that level”. Hence, the definition at the top of this post.

Something’s got to give.

You think you have given clear direction, made the necessary introductions and set everyone up for success. But the agencies heard something else, entirely. They heard “This new vendor is coming in to take over part of your responsibilities and thus reduce your revenue.”  All of this could have been avoided with some simple approaches we outline, below. The money at risk is your own. Ignore them at your own peril.

  1. Clear role and responsibilities.  At Encima, we use a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix on every project to outline who is the driver for each key task.  When done properly at the beginning, this gives everyone involved the opportunity to see where they fit in, raise any objections and ultimately have a document that can be referred to down the road when questions arise.
  2. Explain how each team complements, not replaces each other.  Once everyone understands their role, you as the brand manager can more easily explain that work isn’t being taken away from one vendor and given to another.  Instead, you are relying on everyone’s core area of expertise to strengthen the brand which is a win-win for everyone.
  3. Keep your finger on the pulse.  Do not confuse this with micro-managing. The goal here is to have a regular touch base with all parties to make sure any project risks are addressed before they turn into roadblocks.  You need to setup a forum where everyone can speak freely, provide regular project updates and get your feedback where necessary.
  4. Celebrate success.  Lastly, you need to make sure success is celebrated every chance you get.  Even if the project had some speedbumps, it’s important to publically recognize the work that all the partners put in to make your project work.  Celebrating only those who delivered the end product does a disservice to everyone else who worked behind the scenes.

Analytics in the multi-channel marketing space can be challenging. It’s easy to look for ways to cut corners and save time.  Often times, those time saving tricks work to your advantage.  Occasionally, even with the best of intentions, they backfire.

When bringing different partners together to work on a project, you as the project sponsor need to make sure the right foundation is set.  With engaged leadership, clear expectations, and the right approach, the team will coalesce and your marketing analytics efforts will yield tangible benefits.

Phil Daniels is an Analytics and Business Intelligence technology expert with nearly 15 years of experience spanning Healthcare, Pharmaceutical, and Retail industries.  Phil has led data warehousing and business intelligence consulting engagements for clients such as Cephalon (now Teva), Nycomed, Toys R’ Us, Hanger Orthopedic Group, Harte-Hanks, and L’Oreal. His work includes full business intelligence platform build-outs, dashboards, and syndicated reporting in support of marketing campaigns, panel data, claims systems, corporate financials, and healthcare outcomes research

To contact Phil, email him at