Siddhartha Mukherjee: Focus on ERP will bring down Client-Agency divorces

04 Jun,2020

By Siddhartha Mukherjee


Disruptions or crisis typically expose the cracks of a marriage. This principle aptly fits into the dynamics of Client-Agency matrimony as well. However, normalcy is restored quickly and situation doesn’t converge on divorce ONLY if ERP – Efforts, Resources & Processes – the three Brand Communication pistons –– are managed and optimized well. Especially on the agency side, Size and Muscle power do not guarantee Might any longer.

If one looks at the business scores of Corporate Clients and Agencies, it will be observed that the ratio of Business Not As Usual (BNAU) months is only increasing by the year. Which is why, for Corporates all the more, the need to have a long-term and strong foundation of matrimony with their agency is becoming quintessential.

However, if not divorce rates, at least instances of dissatisfaction between two sides keep surfacing every now and then.

Upon investigation, one will find that the fault line will emerge somewhere in the three ERP pistons mentioned above: Efforts, Resources & Process. ERPs undergo neglect because either they are not Acknowledged or simply not Optimized:

1. Efforts:This typically starts with defining WHY the agency was hired? How the communication efforts of the agency will be monitored and measured? Who maps them? How will the scores be evaluated? Is there a possibility of a third-party observer in this entire process? And so on. In fact, “WHY” plays a crucial role! However, it still remains unfixed between most of Client & Agency matrimonies even in 2020. The answer to WHY is either deliberately kept vague due to insecurity or unscientific because of incompetence. CEO, CMO, CCO and other CXOs who stand to benefit from Brand Communications should play a role in bringing in science into the “Efforts” piston.


2. Resources: When compared to yester years, our communications Industry today is bestowed with a bounty of resources. Budgets, Data, People, Specialised External Agencies…and many more. The question is how do we acknowledge their presence and optimize each one of them. On budgets, I have seen enough examples where budgets have been utilized both intelligently and callously. I have also seen situations where data within Client and Agency organizations is either not being utilized at all or not being optimized. I have seen situations where people or talent is not trained or optimized to manage a specific situation or client need. Resource piston need effective management.


3. Processes: Processes areso very crucial. Processes within Agency, Processes within Client Communication Team and Processes between Client and Agency, all are equally crucial. Processes to Listen, set targets and benchmarks, create a plan, executing a plan, monitoring the execution, evaluation of the outcome, evaluation of the Communications Team and Agency, appraisals, parameters of fee hike, parameters of PR Agency selection, and many such are all supported by mesh of processes.


If you look at this, the onus of ERP management is both on Client as well as the Agency. Some aspects need to be done one on one but some need to be worked upon in tandem.

With market conditions increasingly coming under the influence of uncontrollable BNAU parameters, it is only wise that we insure towards reducing the Client-Agency divorce rates. Brand building and sustenance will increasingly need marriage and not live-ins between Client and Agency. Strong and Healthy ERP is the only way out.



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