Fingerspitz, a Netherlands-based online marketing agency, operates out of Breda, Eindhoven, and Rotterdam, with a team comprising of approximately 50 online marketing professionals, whose expertise spans 1 to 15 years [insert SOURCE 0].
The agency has set a visionary goal for itself: “In 2025, we will become the best large digital marketing agency in the Netherlands by growing 1% every day together with our clients through data-driven insights, surprising ideas and smart experiments.” [insert SOURCE 1].
Treacy & Wiersema
As per the Value Strategies of Treacy and Wiersema [insert SOURCE 2]:
Fingerspitz primarily focuses on product leadership. The agency’s commitment to achieving clients’ objectives, manifesting in the form of award-winning case studies, underscores its product leadership and differentiates it from competitors.
Though economic market
The challenging economic landscape brought on by events such as the Ukraine war, leading to increased energy costs [insert SOURCE 3] and inflation [insert SOURCE 4], and the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic [insert SOURCE 5], has left its imprint on Fingerspitz’s client base. In particular, clients have been grappling with the task of setting realistic post-pandemic goals and actually achieving them [insert SOURCE 6].
Consequently, Fingerspitz’s competitors, faced with overcapacity, have resorted to proactively audit clients from other online marketing agencies, including Fingerspitz, as a customer acquisition strategy. This situation presents a direct threat to Fingerspitz, especially considering the current situation in which clients are dissatisfied with their business results.
Issue and strategic importance of the issue
The two main factors influencing client satisfaction towards their agency include results and communication, i.e., the quality of outcomes delivered by the agency and the agency’s proactivity and transparency in communication [insert SOURCE 7]. However, some clients’ unsatisfactory results, coupled with the prevailing economic environment and Covid-19 recovery complications, make them more susceptible to competitor audits [insert SOURCE 8]. This situation, if left unresolved, can erode Fingerspitz’s client base, highlighting the strategic importance of addressing this issue.
Why the issue is at hand?
An issue tree can illustrate the current problem faced by Fingerspitz:
Clients’ increased openness to competitor audits, and their willingness to switch agencies based on perceived competency, are symptoms, not the core issue. The underlying problem lies in Fingerspitz’s inability to meet the set client goals or effectively communicate about this goal during the process.
Currently, Fingerspitz employs a process involving goal-setting with clients, periodic review of these goals, and a detailed plan for achieving them:
However, this strategy seems dysfunctional as evidenced by the loss of X clients between Y and Z period, with the main reasons being X.
Who’s responsible for the issue?
The organization chart of Fingerspitz, displayed below, sheds light on the individuals responsible for this issue:
[Image: HR Performance presentatie]
The managing director and the innovation manager are tasked with strategy development, while the strategy’s nurturing is entrusted to the online marketing, data and automation, and sales managers. Ultimately, the teams comprising of account strategists, online marketing consultants, online marketing optimizers, and trainees are responsible for its implementation [insert SOURCE 9].
2. Internal analysis and evaluation
Evaluation of Fingerspitz performance KPI’s
Fingerspitz has constructed their strategy around a growth flywheel, which is based on seven Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that inform the direction of their growth.
The flywheel conceptually illustrates a cyclic pattern of growth: data-driven insights inspire stronger ideas, which facilitate more experimentation and automation, leading to improved results for clients. In turn, superior results yield more awards, attracting higher-ambition clients and more talented team members:
[Image: FS Update]
|Growth Objectives||Target 2023||Result (June)|
|People – employee engagement:||30 eNPS||64,29 eNPS|
|Possibilities – experiments:||200 per month||1.115 / 2.400|
|Process – work more efficient:||4 productized sprints with productivity benefit||0|
|Proof – client satisfaction:||≤ 6 clients that leave (subscription clients with a relationship longer than 6 months that quit by themselves)||4|
|Proof – client results:||90% of clients reaches primary goal||64,8%|
|Prizes – awards:||9 awards||2 European awards|
|Profit – revenue:||4,9 million||4,56 million|
The mid-year results indicate that KPIs related to People, Possibilities, Prizes, and Profit are tracking well towards their annual targets. However, there are clear concerns regarding Process and Proof KPIs, which are underperforming at this stage.
Analysis of current strategy
Fingerspitz’s current strategy prioritizes setting, evaluating, and achieving client goals. The visual representation of this process:
Their approach employs productized sprints, which are predetermined, tightly-packaged sets of activities and deliverables completed within a fixed timeframe.
The nature and scope of the sprints delivered to each client are determined on a quarterly basis. During each quarterly review, Fingerspitz alters the annual planning to ensure its relevance to the client’s changing circumstances.
Criteria for the strategy
Interviews with key stakeholders have informed the following criteria for the strategy:
- The strategy should substantially impact client growth.
- The strategy needs to be easily understandable, irrespective of the employee’s seniority level.
- The strategy should be scalable, maintaining consistent quality across the agency, independent of individual contributors. This ensures that even junior members can significantly contribute to high-quality output.
Evaluation of current strategy
While Fingerspitz’s current strategy has its strengths, several components are notably absent:
- There is no discernible prioritization of tasks on the backlog.
- The external (market and product) and internal (client-side employees and business maturity) environments are not sufficiently considered during goal-setting.
- The strategy lacks a framework for reviewing and adjusting goals throughout the year.
- There’s no clear overview of sub-KPIs contributing to the main client goal.
- There is an absence of a feedback loop or fresh eyes review, leading to a quality of work that is overly reliant on individual performance.
To improve their strategy, Fingerspitz could integrate best practices from similar companies and consult recent literature on strategic management. For example, incorporating an Agile approach to task prioritization or fostering a culture of continual feedback can enhance the quality of work and the team’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
3. External analysis
To effectively consider both external and internal factors of a client’s environment during goal-setting, the SWOT-TOWS Framework [insert SOURCE 10] can be employed:
[Image TOWS Analysis https://digitalleadership.com/unite-articles/tows-matrix/
This analytical tool aids in identifying:
- Strengths of the company
- Weaknesses of the company
- Opportunities in the market
- Threats in the market
[insert SOURCE 11]
This framework, when used in conjunction with a confrontation matrix, provides insights into the most effective marketing strategy [insert SOURCE 12]:
[Image SWOT marketing strategies https://www.jaknapisac.com/en/swot-tows-strategic-analysis-step-by-step-choice-of-strategy/]
- Aggressive: Allows the company to leverage its strengths when opportunities arise.
- Conservative: Encourages the company to exploit its strengths to overcome weaknesses.
- Competitive: Promotes the leveraging of opportunities, even in the absence of strong competencies.
- Defensive: Suggests market withdrawal when threats are substantial and the company lacks competencies to manage them.
[insert SOURCE 13]
The results of the SWOT-TOWS analysis form the foundation for setting client goals based on existing quantitative data.
Targets are evaluated based on seasonality and year-to-date progression, with weekly updates and monthly reports keeping the client informed about progress [insert SOURCE 14].
Quarterly reviews offer an opportunity to reassess the targets with the client. However, there is no predefined strategy for handling situations when goals are underachieved or significantly overachieved [insert SOURCE 15].
“Measure What Matters” by John Doerr [insert SOURCE 16] recommends the use of color-coded goals, each with a specific action plan:
- Green: 70-100% on target – Continue as planned.
- Orange: 30-70% on target – Implement a Recovery Plan.
- Red: 0-30% on target – Initiate a Recover or Replace strategy.
These goals serve the overarching objective. For instance:
- Objective: Increase online revenue by 20% to €5 million in 2023.
- Goals: Attract 25 million visitors, achieve a 1.5% conversion rate, and an average order value of €13.33.
[insert SOURCE 17]
To achieve the set goals for clients, a combination of strategic planning and an effective operational methodology is essential.
OGSM is a useful framework for goal-setting and strategic planning [insert SOURCE 18]:
[Image OGSM example https://nl.pinterest.com/pin/95912667049343595/
- Objective: A concise statement of the desired outcome or result.
- Goals: Specific targets that contribute to the achievement of the objective.
- Strategies: High-level approaches or plans to achieve the goals.
- Measures: Quantifiable metrics to track progress and assess the effectiveness of the strategies.
[insert SOURCE 19]
McKinsey Issue Tree
The McKinsey Issue Tree provides a structured framework to dissect complex problems, identify solutions, and facilitate focused, strategic problem-solving [insert SOURCE 20]:
[Image McKinsey issue tree example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfFDF6LRoBo]
- Objective: The main problem or objective.
- Dimensions: Categories contributing to the objective.
- Causes: Factors or root causes within each dimension.
- Solutions: Recommendations to address the causes and solve the problem.
[insert SOURCE 21]
Instead of focusing on numerous marketing initiatives, a catalytic marketing approach emphasizes creating high-quality, memorable experiences that leave a lasting impression on the target audience [insert SOURCE 22]. By focusing on the 20% of initiatives that generate 80% of the results, Fingerspitz can have a bigger impact on their clients’ targets.
Prioritization of backlog
To minimize the influence individuals have on the backlog and to reduce the number of ad-hoc tasks of clients it is recommended to prioritize tasks [insert SOURCE 23]. Prioritization can be done by multiple individuals, in which the criteria can be based on:
- Confidence in the impact
- Ease of implementation
By assigning scores to these criteria and averaging them, tasks can be prioritized effectively. Adding a weight to different criteria can further enhance the prioritization process [insert SOURCE 24].
Way of Working
Toyota Production System
Drawing inspiration from the Toyota Production System (TPS) [insert SOURCE 25], Fingerspitz can adopt various principles to optimize their way of working:
- Just-in-Time (JIT): Delivering the right amount of products or services at the right time to meet customer demand, reducing inventory costs and waste [insert SOURCE 26].
- Jidoka: Emphasizing automation with a human touch, detecting abnormalities and stopping production for quick resolution and ensuring high-quality output [insert SOURCE 27].
- Kaizen: Encouraging continuous improvement by involving all employees in identifying and implementing small, incremental improvements in their work processes [insert SOURCE 28].
- Kanban: Utilizing a visual signaling system to manage production flow and inventory levels, replenishing materials and components only when needed to avoid overproduction [insert SOURCE 29].
- Poka-yoke: Implementing error-proofing mechanisms or devices to prevent mistakes and defects in the production process [insert SOURCE 30].
- Andon: Using a visual management tool to provide real-time information on production status and highlight issues or abnormalities for quick response and resolution [insert SOURCE 31].
Fingerspitz can also learn from the way large metalworking company Wilvo structures its process [insert SOURCE 32], which involves:
- Drafting: creating instructions on how to create specific products.
- Creation: creation of different products that are all part of the main product.
- Quality Assurance: measuring if all different products have the necessary quality to form the main product.
- Assembly: assembly of different products to form main product.
- Quality Assurance: measuring if the main products follows all necessary criteria.
- Cleaning: removing dust to make sure it follows the guidelines set by the client.
- Packaging: packaging and labeling of the products.
The process doesn’t take planning, sales, HR, transport, etc. into account. Based on the 6 types of working genius [insert SOURCE 36], people could be really put into their strength.
Applying agile methodology can enhance the effectiveness of Fingerspitz’s approach. Key concepts in agile methodology include:
- Definition of Done: A set of criteria that defines when a user story or task is considered complete and meets the quality standards for delivery.
- Definition of Ready: A checklist of prerequisites and conditions that a user story or task must meet before it can be included in a sprint or development cycle.
- Acceptance Criteria: Specific conditions or requirements that must be met for a user story or task to be considered successfully completed and accepted by stakeholders.
- User Story: A concise, customer-centric description of a feature, requirement, or functionality that captures the needs and expectations of the end-user in agile development.
[insert SOURCE 33]
To ensure the quality of work and deliverables, Fingerspitz can implement processes such as periodic Fresh Eyes Reviews [insert SOURCE 34], where impartial individuals or teams provide objective insights, identify potential issues, and offer recommendations for improvement. Additionally, a continuous Quality Assurance Process [insert SOURCE 35] can be established to regularly check the quality of deliverables and provide feedback to individuals.
1. Setting Goals
The SWOT-TOWS Framework can be employed to effectively consider both external and internal factors of a client’s environment during goal-setting. This analytical tool aids in identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the company. The results of the SWOT-TOWS analysis form the foundation for setting client goals based on existing quantitative data.
The OGSM (Objective-Goal-Strategy-Measures) framework is a useful tool for goal-setting and strategic planning. It provides a concise statement of the desired outcome or result (Objective), specific targets that contribute to the achievement of the objective (Goals), high-level approaches or plans to achieve the goals (Strategies), and quantifiable metrics to track progress and assess the effectiveness of the strategies (Measures). The added value of OGSM is that it provides insight into metrics that support the overarching goal. This allows individuals to focus on specific metrics to reach the overarching goal, enhancing clarity and alignment within the team.
2. Evaluating Goals
Measure What Matters
Targets are evaluated based on seasonality and year-to-date progression, with weekly updates and monthly reports keeping the client informed about progress. “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr recommends the use of color-coded goals, each with a specific action plan: Green (70-100% on target – Continue as planned), Orange (30-70% on target – Implement a Recovery Plan), and Red (0-30% on target – Initiate a Recover or Replace strategy).
3. Reaching Goals
A catalytic marketing approach emphasizes creating high-quality, memorable experiences that leave a lasting impression on the target audience. By focusing on the 20% of initiatives that generate 80% of the results, Fingerspitz can have a bigger impact on their clients’ targets.
To minimize the influence individuals have on the backlog and to reduce the number of ad-hoc tasks of clients, it is recommended to prioritize tasks. Prioritization can be done by multiple individuals, in which the criteria can be based on Impact, Confidence in the impact, and Ease of implementation. By assigning scores to these criteria and averaging them, tasks can be prioritized effectively. Adding a weight to different criteria can further enhance the prioritization process.
Toyota Production System (TPS)
Drawing inspiration from the Toyota Production System (TPS), Fingerspitz can adopt various principles to optimize their way of working. These principles include:
- Just-in-Time (JIT): Delivering the right amount of products or services at the right time to meet customer demand, reducing inventory costs and waste. This can be applied in the context of Fingerspitz by ensuring that marketing efforts are timed to coincide with peak customer demand periods, thereby maximizing their effectiveness.
- Jidoka: Emphasizing automation with a human touch, detecting abnormalities and stopping production for quick resolution and ensuring high-quality output. In the context of Fingerspitz, this could mean implementing automated systems for tracking and analyzing marketing data, but also having human oversight to identify and address any issues or anomalies.
- Kaizen: Encouraging continuous improvement by involving all employees in identifying and implementing small, incremental improvements in their work processes. This can be implemented at Fingerspitz by fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement, and encouraging all team members to contribute ideas for improving processes and outcomes.
- Kanban: Utilizing a visual signaling system to manage production flow and inventory levels, replenishing materials and components only when needed to avoid overproduction. Fingerspitz can use a similar systemto manage the flow of tasks and projects, ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently and that work is completed in a timely manner.
- Poka-yoke: Implementing fail-safe mechanisms to prevent errors or ensure they are detected immediately when they occur. This can be applied at Fingerspitz by implementing checks and balances in their work processes to prevent errors and ensure high-quality output.
- Andon: Using visual signals to indicate the status of operations and alert team members to any issues or problems. Fingerspitz can use similar visual signals (such as dashboards or status boards) to keep all team members informed about the status of ongoing projects and tasks.
Fingerspitz can adopt a clear production line inspired by Wilvo’s process structure, tailored to marketing tasks. Aligning this process with the ‘6 types of working genius’ ensures individuals are assigned roles that match their strengths, enhancing efficiency, output quality, and team engagement. This approach fosters a streamlined, effective workflow where each team member contributes optimally.
Applying agile methodology can enhance the effectiveness of Fingerspitz’s approach. Key concepts in agile methodology include:
- Definition of Done: This provides a clear understanding of when a task or project is considered complete. For Fingerspitz, this could mean defining specific criteria or deliverables for each task or project, ensuring that all team members have a clear understanding of what is expected.
- Definition of Ready: This ensures that a task or project is fully defined and ready to be worked on before it is started. For Fingerspitz, this could mean ensuring that all necessary information, resources, and approvals are in place before a task or project is started.
- Acceptance Criteria: These are the conditions that a product or service must meet to be accepted by the customer. For Fingerspitz, this could mean working closely with clients to define the acceptance criteria for each project, ensuring that the final deliverables meet the client’s expectations.
- User Story: This is a simple description of a feature or requirement from the perspective of the end user. For Fingerspitz, this could mean developing user stories for each marketing initiative, ensuring that the needs and perspectives of the target audience are considered in the planning and execution of the initiative.
Quality Assurance Process
To ensure the quality of work and deliverables, Fingerspitz can implement a continuous Quality Assurance Process. This could include:
- Regular audits of work processes and deliverables to identify any areas for improvement.
- Implementing a feedback loop where team members can provide and receive feedback on their work.
- Establishing a system for tracking and managing defects or issues, and implementing corrective actions to address them.
- Conducting periodic Fresh Eyes Reviews, where impartial individuals or teams provide objective insights, identify potential issues, and offer recommendations for improvement.
4. Implementation of Recommendations
The first step in implementing these recommendations is to create a detailed plan that outlines the steps, timelines, resources, and responsibilities for each recommendation. This plan should be communicated to all relevant stakeholders and updated regularly to reflect any changes or progress.
To ensure that all employees understand and can effectively implement these recommendations, comprehensive training sessions should be conducted. These sessions should cover the key concepts, tools, and techniques involved in each recommendation, and provide opportunities for employees to ask questions and practice applying these concepts.
Once the plan has been communicated and the necessary training has been provided, the recommendations can be put into action. This involves executing the tasks outlined in the plan, monitoring progress, and adjusting the approach as necessary based on feedback and results.
After the recommendations have been implemented, it’s important to conduct regular reviews to assess the effectiveness of each recommendation and make any necessary adjustments. These reviews should consider both quantitative metrics (such as KPIs and other performance data) and qualitative feedback from employees and clients.
The analysis of Fingerspitz’s strategic challenges is comprehensive and well-structured, providing a detailed overview of the company and its issues. The use of strategic frameworks like the McKinsey Issue Tree, SWOT-TOWS, and OGSM is commendable. However, there are areas for improvement:
- Evidence and Support: The analysis often lacks sufficient evidence or support for its claims. For instance, it asserts Fingerspitz’s strategy is dysfunctional without providing specific examples or data.
- Depth of Analysis: While the analysis covers a wide range of topics, it sometimes lacks depth. For example, the issue of competitors auditing clients is mentioned but not explored in detail.
- Recommendations: The analysis suggests potential improvements but doesn’t provide a detailed plan for implementing these improvements. Specific steps, potential challenges, and solutions would be beneficial.
In summary, the analysis provides a solid foundation for understanding Fingerspitz’s strategic challenges but could be strengthened by providing more evidence, deeper analysis, and detailed recommendations.