TY­ING THE KNOT

Ac­tive’s Louay Al-Samar­rai ex­plains why his agency has fi­nally de­cided to set­tle down with a per­ma­nent part­ner

Campaign Middle East - - News - LOUAY AL- SAMAR­RAI

Why Ac­tive has moved from dat­ing to a se­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship.

With the ad­vent of so­cial and dig­i­tal me­dia and data-driven ev­ery­thing, it’s be­come even more trendy for in­de­pen­dent agen­cies to not only evolve their ser­vice of­fer­ings to sur­vive and com­pete, but to also re­main open to the ad­vances of a big­ger net­work look­ing to have rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the re­gion, to be able to of­fer what the other global net­works or af­fil­i­a­tions are of­fer­ing their clients: cov­er­age across the globe.

Part­ner­ships pro­vide a plat­form to ac­cess the very best of com­mu­ni­ca­tions from var­i­ous in­dus­tries as well as from what each re­gion has to of­fer. They help to ef­fec­tively tap into a much wider net­work of prospects, ser­vices and skills and pro­vide re­gional clients with a broader range of so­lu­tions to their com­mu­ni­ca­tions needs and, si­mul­ta­ne­ously, sup­port in in­creas­ing their vis­i­bil­ity.

Some agen­cies in the re­gion have recog­nised the need to widen their ap­peal and of­fer ex­ist­ing and po­ten­tial clients the ben­e­fits of an in­de­pen­dent agency com­bined with ac­cess to a larger in­ter­na­tional net­work, open­ing up an ac­tive pipe­line of new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties across the globe.

So when we were small and in­de­pen­dent – or even not so small, but still in­de­pen­dent – we en­joyed the ad­vances of these larger play­ers and the var­i­ous dates we went on with them in the search for new busi­ness, in­sight we didn’t have or couldn’t af­ford, and the prom­ise of added ex­per­tise and train­ing.

We dated for nearly eight years and we thor­oughly en­joyed it. We were com­pli­mented, we were courted and we went to places and met clients we would not per­haps have met while sit­ting here in the Mid­dle East. For us, this meant be­ing the most favoured agency in Lon­don cir­cles for some time, meet­ings and calls with var­i­ous se­nior man­age­ment peo­ple in Euro­pean cities and here in the re­gion, and get­ting in­volved in big pitches in Lon­don and Paris, where we gained knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ence and con­tacts.

In the end though, it came down to a choice, and it wasn’t us that de­liv­ered the ul­ti­ma­tum – it was our part­ner, Hotwire. So we had to de­cide, we had to eval­u­ate the ben­e­fits of get­ting mar­ried ver­sus just liv­ing to­gether and oc­ca­sion­ally ‘see­ing other peo­ple’. So what are the ad­van­tages of mar­ried life? Well, to start with, ex­per­tise and sup­port. To­day we ben­e­fit from the breadth of tal­ent that our global net­work has and we have ac­cess to, in or­der to bet­ter ser­vice ex­ist­ing clients, put for­ward much stronger in­te­grated mar­ket­ing pro­pos­als and strengthen the new ser­vices and so­lu­tions we now of­fer.

And tal­ent. While this re­gion can be a tough place to re­cruit and re­tain tal­ent, there is a great deal of medi­ocrity out there and, be­lieve me, we have had our share. How­ever, we now have the op­por­tu­nity to of­fer our teams global train­ing that ad­dresses the true chal­lenges of our in­dus­try. This is a great card to hold and one that our teams now en­joy ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

Tech­nol­ogy. In a data-driven mar­ket­ing en­vi­ron­ment, we could only af­ford the very ba­sic tools to an­a­lyse, re­search, listen and eval­u­ate mar­kets and au­di­ences, of­fer­ing un­so­phis­ti­cated and of­ten free-to-mar­ket tools to talk to and en­gage those au­di­ences. How­ever, with our part­ner’s re­sources, we can and do stand up to any of the of­fer­ings now be­ing used by agen­cies and clients in this re­gion.

Busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. As an in­de­pen­dent agency, we would have some 10-15 leads in our new busi­ness pipe­line every month, and no real means to eval­u­ate the se­ri­ous­ness of each one. To­day, we have more than 500 and, al­though not every one of them is a global op­por­tu­nity, with Hotwire we are fully sup­ported to mar­ket and ex­pose our pres­ence, ex­pe­ri­ence and abil­ity to prospects from Sil­i­con Val­ley to Beijing. That means a much greater chance of win­ning new busi­ness and even by­pass­ing some of the re­gional teams that can al­low crony­ism and pol­i­tics to en­ter their de­ci­sion-mak­ing, rather than value ad­di­tion and pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

There are more tan­gi­ble – and in­tan­gi­ble – ben­e­fits, but these are the core. For us, mar­riage has worked and, like any mar­riage, it’s about the per­son­al­ity, the cul­ture and the am­bi­tions of the part­ner. We have been for­tu­nate to have found these in Hotwire. But we still dated for eight years be­fore we got mar­ried and, like I said, dat­ing was fun.

Man­ag­ing part­ner of Ac­tive ( Dig­i­tal. Mar­ket­ing. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions) part­ner­ing with Hotwire

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