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Analysis: Fingerspitz Strategy

1.         Identification

Fingerspitz

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]:

(Image: https://www.quinnassociation.com/en/customer_orientation)

 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].

Increased competition

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:

[Image]

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:

[Image]

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 ObjectivesTarget 2023Result (June)
People – employee engagement:30 eNPS64,29 eNPS
Possibilities – experiments:200 per month1.115 / 2.400
Process – work more efficient:4 productized sprints with productivity benefit0
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 goal64,8%
Prizes – awards:9 awards2 European awards
Profit – revenue:4,9 million4,56 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:

[Image: 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:

  1. The strategy should substantially impact client growth.
  2. The strategy needs to be easily understandable, irrespective of the employee’s seniority level.
  3. 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:

  1. There is no discernible prioritization of tasks on the backlog.
  2. The external (market and product) and internal (client-side employees and business maturity) environments are not sufficiently considered during goal-setting.
  3. The strategy lacks a framework for reviewing and adjusting goals throughout the year.
  4. There’s no clear overview of sub-KPIs contributing to the main client goal.
  5. 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

Setting goals

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:

[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/]

[insert SOURCE 13]

The results of the SWOT-TOWS analysis form the foundation for setting client goals based on existing quantitative data.

Evaluating goals

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:

These goals serve the overarching objective. For instance:

[insert SOURCE 17]

Reaching goals

To achieve the set goals for clients, a combination of strategic planning and an effective operational methodology is essential.

Strategic Planning

OGSM (Objective-Goal-Strategy-Measures)

OGSM is a useful framework for goal-setting and strategic planning [insert SOURCE 18]:

[Image OGSM example https://nl.pinterest.com/pin/95912667049343595/

https://repository.vlerick.com/bitstream/handle/20.500.12127/6720/Vandemoortele_ICP_Buildapeopleperformanceculture.pdf?sequence=1]

[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]

[insert SOURCE 21]

Catalytic Marketing

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:

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:

Fingerspitz can also learn from the way large metalworking company Wilvo structures its process [insert SOURCE 32], which involves:

  1. Drafting: creating instructions on how to create specific products.
  2. Creation: creation of different products that are all part of the main product.
  3. Quality Assurance: measuring if all different products have the necessary quality to form the main product.
  4. Assembly: assembly of different products to form main product.
  5. Quality Assurance: measuring if the main products follows all necessary criteria.
  6. Cleaning: removing dust to make sure it follows the guidelines set by the client.
  7. 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.

Agile  Methodology

Applying agile methodology can enhance the effectiveness of Fingerspitz’s approach. Key concepts in agile methodology include:

[insert SOURCE 33]

Quality Assurance

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.

4.         Conclusion & Recommendations

1. Setting Goals

TOWS Analysis

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.

OGSM

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

Catalytic Marketing

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.

Backlog Prioritization

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:

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.

Agile Methodology

Applying agile methodology can enhance the effectiveness of Fingerspitz’s approach. Key concepts in agile methodology include:

Quality Assurance Process

To ensure the quality of work and deliverables, Fingerspitz can implement a continuous Quality Assurance Process. This could include:

4. Implementation of Recommendations

Planning

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.

Training

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.

Execution

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.

Review

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.

5.         Critical Appraisal

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:

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.

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