Ringing in the New!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has been able to enjoy some family, friends and feet-up time over the past week. We’ve had some great discussions this month at IHAF, specifically around the importance of in-house agency promotion. Some of the points we discussed really resonated with me. I hope you’ll take them with you into 2015 as you begin the new year with your team. 

Jim Lucas of CheckMark (the in-house agency at Nestlé Purina) commented on one of our LinkedIn group discussions saying that when promoting your in-house team, it’s important to strike a balance. You don’t want to be too self-serving, but rather, promote your in-house team in a way that helps your clients understand who you are and the value you provide. Jim and his team have done this by giving senior executives and clients quarterly updates that explain the strategy and demonstrate the business impact of their work.

Tom Klug of Virginia Commonwealth University also made a great point in his blog post about the importance of developing your in-house agency brand. I loved hearing about how he and his team turned themselves into the client by creating a brand platform that included their vision, mission, and promise along with their unique brand identity. Not only did the process engage the team, it helped unify the way they speak about themselves and their work.

At the recent IHAF Annual Conference, we were all enthralled by Tom Monahan of Before & After who took us through some rapid-fire brainstorming on key topics, one of which was promoting the in-house agency. Participants generated over 100 terrific, practical ideas that are featured in IHAF’s latest newsletter. My favorites fall into three buckets:

Educate Your Clients. Make sure your clients know what you do and the value you bring to the business. This can be done through roadshows, lunch-and-learns or even by inviting special speakers to educate the in-house agency and client teams on key topics.

Show Your Stuff. Act like an agency and make sure you have a variety of tools that really show-off your creative muscle, along with related business cases. Sizzle reels, websites, useful print collateral and premiums can also help tell your story in creative, compelling ways.

Say Thank You. Showing appreciation for successful collaboration with your business partners can go a long way. This can come in the form of fun events like ice cream socials and BBQs or focused efforts like writing joint case studies to share with the whole company.

This may seem like obvious stuff, but as we get into the day-to-day grind, it can be easy not to make time to promote your team. Get into a rhythm around promoting your in-house agency—be disciplined about it and mix it up.

And finally, I think it was Paul Lee of Blue Cross Blue Shield who reminded me in his blog post of what might be the most essential point: “Fostering and building strong client relationships is equally, if not more important, than promoting your work.” Well said, Paul.

In-house agency promotion is only as good as the relationships you have built. As we get ready to cross the threshold into 2015, allow me to raise a glass to all of you and your in-house teams. Here's to another great year for all of us!

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