Guidance for a Stellar Agency Summit
Include These Four Ingredients (and a few optional spices!):
1. Provide insights into the business to ensure marketing and agency partners understand what’s driving the marketing objectives. This may include presentations from:
- CEO or other strategic executive: To provide the overall vision for the business – for the next fiscal year, 3 years, etc.
- Sales executive: To provide insight into how they “win” and what their priorities are. If the priorities vary across the globe, invite participants from various regions (via phone). Specific areas they might discuss:
- Recent “wins”
- Significant obstacles in the market
- Product marketing executive(s): To showcase the technology road-map and priorities for future development. Specific areas they may discuss:
- Major product/solutions launches
- Competitive environment/insights
2. Provide insights into the marketing goals and objectives to ensure marketing and agency partners are aligned. This may include presentations from:
- Corporate marketing: To discuss key initiatives underway/priorities
- Demand and/or Field marketing teams: To provide an overview of goals/objectives, marketing plans, priorities, alliances with sales, market challenges, programs in market and other key pieces of information to empower agency partners.
- Marketing operations (which may be a subset of one of the first two items): To share priorities and/or updates on key initiatives underway.
3. Agency insights and current programs (or best practices). Each agency should be given an opportunity to present. The “ask” for each agency may be different based on the state of work with each shop. Presentations typically cover one or more of the following:
- Current work: What’s in development and/or in market?
- Recent success/insights: Results, key lessons and optimization plans
- Industry best practices: Ideally, this is specific to the client market/industry (however, I have seen great presentations where a key trend in B2C was made applicable to B2B)
4. Team building and FUN! The sky is the limit here. Bill Rozier (VP of Marketing at Ciena) is the KING of great ideas on this front (he’s actually the expert on planning and executing agency summit’s too!). Here are a few guidelines:
- Structured and “mixed team” marketing brainstorm sessions
- Team building exercises (consider a professional coach or facilitator as a guide)
- Social event/outing (ideally an evening event that allows for great interactions)
Spice #1: “Homework”
- Prior to the summit, pose a provocative question (related to marketing, of course); then share responses at the summit. At the Ciena Agency summit I attended earlier this year, the VP of Marketing asked everyone to consider “what does marketing look like in 20 years?”.
Spice #2: Planning/debrief with key partners
- Agencies make great investments to attend client summits. Therefore, it’s a thoughtful reciprocation to spend an hour or two debriefing on upcoming initiatives or other information from the summit.
- Sessions: Limit sessions to 25-30 minutes – as attention spans wane quickly. Only exception is if there’s a big launch or initiative that requires a more detailed review.
- Duration: 1 to 1 ½ days is ideal (best scenario is to start at 10am on day 1, and wrap up around lunch time on day 2)
- Location: Holding the event “off-site” is ideal (if budget allows) to ensure attendees focus full attention to the summit vs. with day-to-day work.