A director-led approach sits at the heart of Leader’s service.
This means that a significant majority of our account handling and campaign delivery is done by our most experienced communicators, supported by our expert ‘Hub’ team of design, digital and content specialists.
Of course this is pretty much the reverse of the standard agency model, where delivery is typically the responsibility of junior/mid-level staff, with support from account directors.
So why have we taken the decision the decision to flip the old agency model upside down? How does it make a difference to clients, and what does it take to achieve?
1. Who you see is who you get
When a client engages with a traditional agency to support their marketing strategy, what often follows could be described as the law of rapidly diminishing returns.
Responding to the merest sniff of a brief, the agency brings out its great and good. Directors vie for client focus and attention throughout he pitching process. Prospective clients might be forgiven for feeling rather flattered. Loved, even.
Unfortunately, that feeling tends to last about as long as it takes for the ink to dry on the contract.
Instead, the client finds they deal day to day with the more junior team members. Service and deliver levels can waver and decay. Directors are seen only at monthly, quarterly or even annual account reviews. This scenario is common enough to full deserve its status as an industry cliché.
Leader decided many years ago to buck this trend. Instead of ‘promising God and delivering the vicar’, Leader chose to front not just its pitch teams but also its service delivery with a senior director team.
So director-led means that the senior team you meet at the pitch is the senior team you will work with to deliver your programme.
2. A new model for a digital age
The traditional agency model is a child of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
From Mad Men to Ab Fab, high fees (and large expense accounts) supported an astonishing hierarchy of roles: from researchers and admin assistants, to account executives, account managers, account directors and finally company directors.
The titles have changed in recent years (‘content ninja’ anyone?), but the hierarchy has remained.
With traditional campaign delivery this was rarely a problem. Print, post and television were the dominant media, and each came with a long production pipeline. So while a junior team might have provided the initial text and graphic design for a leaflet, there was plenty of time for it to be reviewed and revised by account manager, director and client in turn – and then printer proofs would be produced for approval by many of the same. Printed and posted press releases endured the same tortuous route to market, and television – well, with production times running to months there was plenty of time for everyone to have a say.
Compare and contrast this with today’s digital delivery. On social media the production process can virtually instantaneous; and even when a larger team is involved in content creation, an emphasis on speed-to-market and affordability generally precludes the involvement of anyone who doesn’t have a significant contribution to make.
When ‘right first time’ is the order of the day, it makes no sense at all for delivery to start with your most junior employees. That’s why, as well as completely flattening the hierarchy down to our simple director-hub model, we make sure that delivery starts with our most experienced communicators.
3. Because we should
No matter how technically accomplished, junior individuals inevitably lack commercial experience. Short-term campaign thinking becomes the order of the day, with no vision, or consideration for longer term strategic contributions.
Stuff gets done ‘because we can’ rather than ‘because we should’.
Leader’s communication directors have more than 20 years’ experience each, in private, public and not-for-profit sector roles; agency and in-house; and across countless sectors.
We deliver campaigns that meets your commercial objectives. We will advise and challenge as required, and support you with a quality which reflects this combined know-how.
4. For the long haul
High staff turnover is a huge problem within the traditional agency model, especially at junior levels.
Directors, however, are more settled and don’t tend to come and go so often; most of our directors have been with Leader for more than a decade.
Of course we rely on the specialist skills of our hub colleagues, but our service isn’t defined by them.
That means we can deliver a more stable client experience and build deeper and more effective partnerships.
5. Making it happen
If the advantages of director-led are so many and so obvious then why don’t all agencies do it? Well, to be honest it’s easier said than done.
First and foremost it requires a business culture which targets quality rather than growth or profit. Our priorities are – and always have been – quality service and excellent communications. After that, we figure everything else will pretty much take care of itself.
Second, you need senior director-level consultants who still want to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty in data, content creation, promotional activity and more. Communication is in our DNA and it’s what we love; but that’s not as common as you might think.
You also need a rigorous cost controls so you can deliver that higher quality at prices which compare to (or beat) those of traditional agencies. Value is a core part of our proposition, and we work hard to maintain the critical balance between quality and price. Our beautiful rural office, for example, is more than just a pretty face – it’s a highly cost-effective alternative to swanky City Centre space, and a key part of our ongoing cost strategy.
Time to talk?
For us the proof lies in the longevity of client relationships (many over a decade), and the fact that most of our new business comes organically and from word-of-mouth referral.
If you’re tired of the tradtional agency model and would like to discuss the benefits of turning it on its head, why not contact one of our frontline communication directors – Marc, Gerry, or Alister – on 01789 739240, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.