Advertising Interview South Africa

#BrandManagerMonth: Optimising business relationships with Radar

Ann Nurock, who normally does the interviewing for us as roving reporter at local and international creative award shows like Cannes Lions, One Show and the Loeries, is also Africa partner for Relationship Audits and Management or RAM's Radar. Here, Nurock shares more about her day job and how Radar clarifies agencies' understanding of their relationships with clients.
Ann Nurock
Ann Nurock

Explaining what it is that she does, Nurock provides context as follows, “When business relationships are optimised, both parties in that relationship prosper.”

While she says that may sound obvious, many companies simply don’t realise how important the actual relationship is in a business environment. We live in such a fast-moving and, at times, parity world and the one thing that truly sets companies apart is the quality of their relationships.

Relationship quality is a difficult concept to explain though, which is where Radar’s Relationship Audits and Management tool set fits in…

Business relationships under the microscope

Explaining the tool’s local origin story, Nurock says she needed a new challenge and one that was still related to the advertising industry on her return from Toronto in 2011 after three years as president/CEO Grey Canada. She says, “It was reinvention time, which came in the form of being approached and accepting the position of Africa Partner for Relationship Audits and Management (RAM). RAM is a global consultancy that does one thing only: measure the health of B2B relationships in order to mitigate risk, identify weaknesses and optimise success.”

Example of the Radar dashboard.
Example of the Radar dashboard.
click to enlarge

Nurock explains that Relationship Radar was then launched in South Africa mid-2012, after much success globally in all sectors of business, particularly marketing services. Now, after almost five years, the off-take has been phenomenal, with Radar having been used by over 40 agencies of all disciplines, as well as three major banks, alcoholic beverage and FMCG companies, as well as law firms and property companies, with the bulk of these surveys conducted into the health of those all-important client-agency relationships.

Radar works on the fact that senior management in any organisation are accountable, but just don’t have the time to know what is going on at every level of the business: “It’s often the problems you don’t know about that get you fired.” As a result, Nurock explains Radar’s competitive advantage as follows:

  • Simplicity: Radar literally takes less than five minutes to complete online via any device, which is hugely important in a world where time is the scarcest resource and no one has the time to spend time on onerous surveys. This is why Radar’s completion rates vary between 70% and 100%. The output of Radar is not only a working document with strategic recommendations, but also involves accessing the intuitive user-friendly dashboard to analyse the data any way you choose.
  • Every KPI is benchmarked against very robust norms both locally and globally, which provides both clients and agencies with a view on how they are performing.
  • The value proposition of actionable intelligence indicates remedial actions via its report as both a working document and the intuitive dashboard.In addition, you can take immediate remedial action from the real-time email alerts if your recommendation score is below par.
  • Besides being cost effective, the biggest benefit of Radar is that it facilitates a conversation and in today’s world of technology, which is often lacking.

Back to basics in 2017

Nurock says, “After conducting hundreds of Radar surveys in South Africa and across the continent, the results are very clear in that it’s the basics that count.” Most clients want the same things from their agencies:

  • Agility, in today’s fast-moving economy.
  • Understanding of their business, in order to provide them with an informed point of view. Often clients feel that middle management are ‘order takers’ and too transactional.
  • Collaboration between their agencies in order to provide the client with a totally integrated solution. They are not interested in project managing their agencies, but need them to work together with the best interest of the brands in mind.
  • Adding value to their business by being proactive, informed and providing thought leadership.

Having said all this, Nurock says agencies have similar needs in terms of understanding their process, providing insightful briefs and agility in reverting with clear actions. While this may sound like table stakes, not every agency or client is providing the correct basics for a good relationship.

So, how are the South African agencies doing?

Naturally there are the good, the bad and the ugly, but Nurock says that overall, our agencies are in a pretty good place. Despite all the talk of doom and gloom, the overall average of over 40 agencies covering all disciplines is in the 7 range, which is identified by Radar as ‘good’. Despite this, there is very seldom that there are no signs of improvement. That’s why Nurock says her greatest satisfaction from Radar is the response and actions taken by both clients and agencies on receiving their results. And the tool is proving its value by picking up its own awards, with one of Nurock’s proudest moments when Radar received the Bronze Award for Best in Class Portfolio Management at the global Pernod Ricard Premier Awards in Munich last month.

Charl Bassil, marketing director of Pernod Ricard, explained at the time: “Pernod Ricard has at its very core the philosophy that we are creators of conviviality. What this means for us is that we strive to develop authentic relationships with the people we work with, which is particularly appropriate for the invaluable partnerships we are creating with our agencies. Radar ensures that we continue having relevant and meaningful conversations with our agency partners so that we can continuously work at improving those relationships. Ultimately, we know that authentic relationships allow for improved understanding and therefore genuine passion for our business and our brands. The Premier Awards Bronze is recognition from our global business that the tool we have chosen in Radar reflects our business culture.”

With those glowing words from last year’s IAB Bookmarks digital marketer of the year, there’s no better time to put your own business relationships under the microscope. For more on Radar, visit their website. Click here to follow them on Twitter and here for Nurock’s feed.

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.

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