Today | Written by Ralph Rozema
[published in the annual edition of Emerce100]
Candid and agencies M2Media, STROOM, De Media Maatschap, daily dialogues, Havana Harbor and Online Company have achieved top rankings in the Emerce100. It is the annual ranking of the best e-business companies in the Netherlands.
In this interview, Saskia Wagenmakers, Jasmijn Bouwmeester, Samantha Catsburg, Sjef Kerkhofs, Fabienne Jungerhans and René Smeding talk about working with clients and collaborating with the agencies within the Candid platform.
It is essential for brands to integrate media, creation, data and technology if they want to stay connected with their target audience. The Candid platform is designed to achieve this. It allows specialised agencies with their own identity and culture to work together, breaking down all barriers. The largest independent marketing and communications platform in the Netherlands sees that the market is increasingly embracing its strategy. Candid is also growing internationally, bringing together strong and distinctive agencies in one integrated platform. Therefore, within Candid, there are no silos for clients. They can directly connect with one or more agencies or with a specially equipped multidisciplinary team. ''The platform offers marketing and communication solutions that are inspired by data, supported by technology and driven by creativity. But above all, these solutions generate growth for our clients,'' says Saskia Wagenmakers, Chief Client Officer at Candid. The objective when Candid was founded in 2007 was 'to solve the increasingly complex marketing and communication issues of clients'. That objective is still rock solid.
An entrepreneurial spirit
All thirteen Candid-agencies are very strong individually, with their own culture and identity, and employing the best specialists. "We understand that agencies perform best when they continue to work in the way that is most motivating for their colleagues and clients,'' says Wagenmakers. "That way, they can stay ahead in their own discipline and keep the entrepreneurial spirit. We share, without exception, the values of entrepreneurship, collaboration, openness and above all courage''
The platform is organised around a common goal and shared believe. Wagenmakers: "By uniting the creative forces of our agencies, we are able to integrate media, creativity, digital, data and technology to the maximum benefit of our clients. They get the best solutions and business results. We create work that touches hearts and connects people, focusing on impact, performance and results.''
"Clients can concentrate on their business, knowing that their marketing, communication and media interests are optimally looked after, in the way they prefer. Whether they want to work with one or more agencies, our flexibility ensures that we can respond to the current needs of every client. We notice that clients absolutely love this approach. A good example is Blokker, which is supported by almost all Candid agencies in its transition to become the largest online and offline shop for cooking, dining and housekeeping. And I'm convinced that the pitch for the Floriade was won because of the power of the integrated offer."
The Candid-agencies are divided into three service layers: Creative & Consulting Agencies, Digital Specialist Services and Media. Together they offer solutions for every stage of the marketing funnel. "The Candid platform is founded on the principle of putting the client first and on the ability to always look at the bigger picture,'' Wagenmakers clarifies. Each agency is very good at at least one specific specialism and they are all capable of teaming up with others. This requires a broad understanding of other agencies' work and their different perspectives. It leads to a balanced and qualitatively integrated service offering. "We continuously share best practices and look at our customers' challenges from different perspectives. As a result, we see innovations accelerate while the quality of our work improves."
Power of media
Change is a constant variable in the media landscape, says Wagenmakers. "We're always dealing with new players, shifts in media consumption and changing opportunities in media itself, both technically and in media buying tactics. The consolidation of operators in the Dutch market also makes it more difficult for advertisers to make the right choices. Besides, there are often questions to be answered that are bigger than media.''
"Experience shows that a broad knowledge of media combined with integrated communication yields the best media advice. We link this knowledge to real attention for the client,'' says Samantha Catsburg of full-service media agency STROOM, which leads this year's list of media agencies with 6.5 stars. "With an integrated approach, we offer the most impactful and effective media advice. That's how our clients grow and we grow with them.''
Driven by result
The enterpreneurial spirit at M2Media always leads to the question 'What would we do if it was our own money?' ,,Media are a means, not the solution," says Jasmijn Bouwmeester of M2Media. To optimally serve clients, M2Media develops alternatives for the expensive TV GRP and prepares them for a cookieless and more privacy savvy world. And they make the difference with marketing tooling.
Standing next to the customer and taking responsibility for the result makes M2Media unique. It leads to long lasting customer relationships. "We look beyond media buying, we co-develop with the customer, we are part of their team and we connect the right people to their challenge."
Optimal digital experience
Clients can turn to Havana Harbor, creative agency for digital experiences, for short term campaigns or full-blown websites. "Because we have a specialist for each step in the digital experience, we can fully support the specialist on the client side. We speak the same language. Or, another increasingly popular option: we act as an extension of a creative marketing team with a fully equipped studio 'as a service'.'' For the near online future, Fabienne Jungerhans, agency lead at Havana Harbor, foresees growth in many, especially smart, performance driven, automated solutions. "These respond to the demand for more variants in less time for more optimization. In addition, I see an increasing need for craftsmanship, more attention for customized solutions and integration of new techniques, such as conversational, AR, VR and of course the Metaverse, in brand and campaign. That is what Havana Harbor provides, combined with the digital specialists within the platform.''
The best (e)commerce results
Initiating, creating and managing (online) sales is the core focus of digital performance agency Online Company. In doing so, it looks in the broadest sense of the word at changes needed for improved sales and returns, online and offline. According to René Smeding, MD of Online Company, it is essential to not only look at channel activation and control, but also at the organisation and its set-up. And if necessary, Online Company takes the lead, in consultation of course, in monitoring progress on all variables that influence performance. When the growth potential is limited or the maximum result is not achieved, Online Company turns to Havana Harbor within the Candid platform, for UX-CRO, for instance. This way they can continue to optimize all axes. "In the end, having control over all the different moving online parts is all about one thing: return on investment for our client.''
Social with 7 stars
Expressing mutual trust and respect is the true form of cooperation. For daily dialogues, THE social media agency of the Netherlands, with a seven star rating this year, this does not have to be documented in extensive SLAs and contracts. There is rarely a clearly defined 'customer-supplier' agreement – for daily dialogues, collaboration is also about helping each other to keep the eye on the ball, according to Sjef Kerkhofs: "We see it as our moral duty to point out the possibilities and opportunities of social media to our clients, but also the limitations and risks. Especially since privacy and brand reputation play an increasingly important role in all online activities.''
At daily dialogues, a conscious choice was made for a channel specialism. The services of the full service provider in social media marketing can be roughly divided into two pillars. The first is social media relations, with a focus on building and nurturing conversations with clients' target group(s). The second is called social media maturity. This contains services aimed at developing the company, business or brand.
The Candid platform now provides more than three hundred national and international clients with access to the best specialists (vertical axis), and it serves clients across the spectrum with integrated media and marketing solutions (horizontal axis).
Good teams, dedicated professionals, a great culture and sharing the right values – important assets within the platform. "As Candid, we facilitate this as much as we can,'' says CCO Wagenmakers. "We organise sparring sessions about clients with a multidisciplinary team, or brainstorm from different perspectives without a client asking for it. These sessions often result in super cool things that you can present to your client.''
"Candid invests a lot in knowledge sharing, for our own people and for our clients. Every quarter, for example, we have a 'Candid about...' client event where we, together with our clients, look at major topics from a broader perspective. Internally, we have monthly master classes and breakout sessions on relevant topics and clients. There are regular knowledge sessions with external parties and during our quarterly Commerce day, strategists and people from account spar about current customer topics. Also important: there is a uniform way of working in, for instance, systems, processes, reporting and contracts. These are parts of the business that have to run smoothly, but on which everyone wants to spend as little time as possible. "With Candid, clients don't have to keep onboarding a 'new' agency. This frees up all energy for the real customer challenges.''
Check out the complete overview (Thursday the 28th of april) of the Emerce100 here.