A Q&A with Stephen Maher, Chairman of the Marketing Society and Chief Executive of MBA, on why he is right behind the IPA’s Adapt programme and how he needs to get 'stroking'.
Q: It’s great that the Marketing Society is involved with Ian Priest’s ADAPT agenda. How can it help?
The Marketing Society is the world’s leading network of senior marketers. We have over 2,500 members who have great influence in their organisations and in the wider world too.
The MS mission is to provide inspiration, best practice and resources to bold, successful marketing leaders. Ian’s ADAPT agenda, and its drive for commercial creativity and effectiveness, is something we are right behind.
How we help is by continuing to promote the agenda to our members across our channels – whether that’s our online clubhouse, social media, emails newsletters, and events.
We want our members to attend and join in with the series of Adaptathons, and we will encourage them to feed back and help shape this evolving IPA agenda. In turn, we’ll use this to influence our programme in 2014 and beyond.
I firmly believe we’re all in this together, that this should be a joint exercise, and the outcomes will be all the better for it.
Q: What were your impressions of the Alliances Adaptathon?
I thought it was very professional and thought provoking – right through from the presentations to the output of the working laboratories. But the most important factor was that it collaborative. People worked together across the divides. The day’s input was reflected in the output.
Q: What was the one insight that struck you most on a personal level?
Hmm, well, let’s make sure this comes across the right way: it’s that I need to touch and stroke even more people even more often (legally, it goes without saying!).
Seriously, I loved Julie Hay’s presentation, and I’m delighted she’s involved with this initiative. Her idea that people, in business as in life, respond to stroking [a stroke is a term for a unit of recognition] is just so sensible, and a reminder of things that we can too easily forget.
Q: With all your experience, where do you think the biggest issues in relationships are?
It’s quite simple. It’s ensuring that the bedrock of any long-term successful partnership is trust – a mutual respect and a shared agenda. It always has been and always will be.
Q: What's the most easily avoidable way to avoid falling out?
It’s to make sure that this shared agenda is constantly supported by an everyday spark, and by total delivery in the relationship.
Q: What do the best client-agency relationships you’ve seen have in common?
It’s all about the holy trinity: complete trust, a constant spark and total delivery. When this applies, the right environment is fostered for the very best creativity which in turn will drive the very best ROI.
That’s the commercial creativity and the sustainable growth we underline in our Marketing Society Manifesto.
Q: What did you personally learn from the day?
That we have even more to learn in business relationship building from neuroscience, behavioural economics and our emotional side than we often think.
Q: What were the key takeaways for attendees?
Most clients and agencies want the same – long-standing, trusting, relationships; less pitching; less wasted time and money; and effective creativity – but often misunderstandings and a lack of clarity in the rules of engagement get in the way.
Of course it sounds so simple, but it’s very easy to forget. And it’s imperative that we understand that, at heart, we do all want the same thing.
But we also have to remember that to succeed means having to work really work hard at this relationship everyday.
Read more about the Adapt programme.
Last updated 16/10/2013