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Of the Sheepdog and Wolf


Of the Sheepdog and Wolf


Once upon a time, in the faraway land of Marketania, there lived two most unlikely friends – a sheepdog and a wolf. Most evenings they would get together on the wind swept hills of Marketania and share stories of their adventures during the day, only occasionally straying on to the topic of most interest to them both but for different reasons: sheep.

One evening, after a particularly hard day’s work, they got together as usual but this night, the sheepdog over-indulged on his favourite beverage.The next morning he awoke feeling very sad and sorry for himself and could not quite face up to going to work. His great friend, the wolf, offered to take his position for the day and look after the sheep. You can guess what happened next…

For it is in the nature of a sheepdog to herd and nurture the flock even at the peril of his own life and it is in the nature of the wolf to eat sheep – and you can’t beat nature.

So too this story can apply to marketing folks. It is in the nature of the marketer to build a trusting relationship with their agency. Marketers like to seek the advice and support of their agency wherever possible and to leverage the agency for as much value as they can get from them. Conversely, it is in the nature of the agency to own and control as much of the marketing spend by the company as possible and to maximise the revenue and margin for the agency.

The question this raises is: “Does it make business sense to also let the agency measure the outcome of the joint effort?”
Some agencies embrace measurement, especially the advanced capabilities which come in the online world, and use it to drive stronger and better outcomes for their clients. Other agencies see measurement tools as a drain on the potential ad spend from a client and avoid it like the plague.

Regardless of the approach, from a business viewpoint it cannot possibly make business sense to have the agency in control of the reporting. In all other aspects of business, in-house or independent measurement systems are in place for good reason. The accounting department uses auditors to keep them honest and avoid costly law suits. Production systems have separate quality control processes in place to maintain service quality. It is a precept of good business practice that the measurement system be independent of the process.

The moral of the story: keep your friends close but always remain cognizant of their underlying nature. It is not fair on them or you to put them in a position of conflict with their own nature. Sheep taste great, especially if you are a hungry wolf!  

“This is my personal blog.  The views expressed here are my own and do not represent those of my employer, Coremetrics.”


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