Strategies for a Changing Marketing Landscape with George Raptis and Emily Bibb

Episode 88 of Yes, and Marketing

What would you learn if you spent your time connecting marketing agencies with in-house marketers all over the world?

We got to find out. On this episode of Yes, and Marketing, Steve talks with George Raptis and Emily Bibb. Together, George and Emily are the founders of Breef, a marketplace connecting brands with over 5000 boutique agencies and reimagining the entire agency sourcing process. 

We go behind the curtain with George and Emily to talk about some of the insights they’ve gathered from their unique vantage point between in-house marketers and agencies:

  • What do agencies want in-house marketers to know?
  • When does it make more sense to partner with a boutique over a full-service agency?
  • What are the key trends in marketing projects?
  • What are the pain points Breef is solving for both brands and agencies?

Listen to the episode above or read on for our highlights of the conversation. You can also check out highlights from all our episodes at Yes, and Marketing.


Guest-at-a-Glance

Name: George Raptis and Emily Bibb

What they do: Co-founders of Breef

Find George and Emily on the web: Breef | George on LinkedIn | Emily on LinkedIn

Get smart: “The notion of, ‘Here’s our bread-and-butter campaign that we do every year’ is dissipating so quickly.”


Top Takeaway

Good marketing is changing fast

Between new channels like NFTs or TikTok, updates to Google algorithms, and a world that’s changing day-to-day—if not minute-to-minute—successful marketing requires constant innovation. 

“There’s only so much an in-house marketing team can do because the landscape is moving so fast,” Emily says. 

Breef is turning this pain point into an opportunity for brands. “Not everything needs to be totally full-service agency oriented anymore,” George explains. “We want to ship stuff faster, and a boutique can definitely do that.”

Boutique agencies may only specialize in one thing, but they’re often better at that one thing than a full-service agency. What Breef is doing is making it easier for brands to find that one boutique agency who’s the ideal fit for their project—or maybe the three boutique agencies who are the best fit for three different projects—and streamline the process from pitch to payment.

Working with a boutique agency allows you to move faster, and it also allows you to experiment with new channels without having to devote in-house resources. As marketing continues to evolve, that ability to innovate and deliver without the hassles of a traditional RFP process will differentiate winners and losers in the industry.


Episode Highlights

Emily’s frustrations that led to Breef’s creation

“As marketing became more complex, I felt I was constantly outsourcing to small partners. So whether I needed someone to help with SEO or affiliate marketing or paid social, you name it—I was getting extremely, extremely frustrated at the timeliness of the process. There was no central point of reference.”

Where in-house marketers often fail with agencies

Emily: “Just to be able to articulate what you’re looking for is something that has been—up until Breef—a pain point for that relationship. Client goes to agency, doesn’t know budget, doesn’t really know the deliverables, doesn’t know the timing and where to go, and so right off the bat, the relationship can’t be productive, even on that first intro call.”

George: “Agencies exists because these are people that are really good at what they do. But if the client—having articulated what they want—doesn’t then set expectations for deliveries, timing, budget, all the things Emily spoke about, then the relationship at some point is going to hit a speed hump and you’re basically both speaking different languages.”

Their vision for Breef

“We view Breef as not only that service where you can come and find the best agency partner, but really a truly holistic platform where you can come to plan your projects, you can budget your projects, you can talk with a fellow marketing expert on our team who can further help you define what you’re looking for or say, ‘Hey, we’re working with a few other brands in this space. This is really the budget that you should be in,’ and to validate that.

And then on the back-end of that is once you find that great connection, we’re really trying to make it easy for you to continue working with them and to do good work: contracts, seamless payments, all that good stuff.”

Defining boutique agencies

“What we typically call ‘boutiques’ are between two and 30 people, they’re good at two or three things in particular but they’re not full service, and the things that they’re really good at, they’re often better than a full-service agency because they’re doing more of this over and over.”

The advantage of a small agency over a bigger one?

“In our experience, it’s speed. Often a large agency will build a team around a project, whereas with the boutique agencies, it’s the whole team. There also is a scrappiness that was not traditionally associated with the agency world that our boutique agencies can bring, that comes with speed.”

The need for a standardized agency data set

“An individual agency knows its own profile, but it doesn’t know the profiles of all the other agencies that are in the market. We’re for the very first time bringing all of those agencies together and trying to standardize the data points about those agencies, which can mean anything from skillset, to location, to industries they work in, to minimum budgets, to maximum budgets, to the speed they’ll be able to start.”

Experiment with new channels before investing in-house resources 

“There’s only so much an in-house marketing team can do because the landscape is moving so fast. Where we find marketers come to Breef to outsource is often for those innovative film and app types of projects. So, they hear about TikTok and before they dedicate full-time resources in house, they say, ‘Let’s just try this with a boutique agency.’

We’ve seen a lot of NFT projects emerge in this space, because again, I don’t know if people are fully comfortable hiring an expert full-time in-house, but trying and testing and experimenting with these agency partners really allows for this whole breadth in their marketing mix that they didn’t have access to before.”

A major shift in marketing org charts

“The umbrella trend that we’re seeing is our organizations are completely rethinking their org charts and rethinking how they spend with agency partners. So we’ll have a start-up come to us and instead of having to hire a whole marketing team, they say, ‘We just want to work with the best of the best agency partners, and we’re going to be set.’

Then you have more of the larger, enterprise brands who are realizing ‘Wow, that big agency is really not innovating as fast as we need them to be. Let’s rethink where we can find these smaller teams to plug in the gaps.’”

Humility makes success easier

“Marketers are good at selling, right? So they weren’t traditionally good at showing a sense of uncertainty or under-confidence about what they were looking for. Now, our team gets emails and calls and messages on platform saying, ‘I think we should be doing this, but what should I be doing next?’ Or, ’Is this budget too high or too low?’ We have so many data points that they’re actually coming to rely on us for that.

And I think the people that get the most out of Breef are the ones that actually put their hands up and say, ‘Look, I actually don’t know everything. I’m really good at this one thing, but we need to do these other three things that I have no idea about.’ That sense of humility, but also the trust that is coming through us, is what I would tell every marketer to think about.”


Top Quotes

Emily:

“The coolest thing about the boutique agency landscape is they’re true specialists, not only in the work that they’re doing, but often in industries.”

“There’s so much more that goes into working with an agency partner beyond just finding them.”

George:

“In-house marketers should be putting their hand up and saying, ‘I think I want this, but I’m not actually sure what I’m looking for.’”

“Just because you’re really good at what you do doesn’t mean you know how to run a business.”

“The notion of, ‘Here’s our bread and butter campaign that we do every year’ is dissipating so quickly.”


Learn More

Ooh and aah over Recess, a brand that uses Breef for unique and funky social-first content.

Check out Kinrgy, Julianne Hough’s brand that’s been using Breef to pivot from in-person to digital offerings during COVID.

Megan Skalbeck

Megan traffics in words. Whether that’s spinning up a story on the blog or paring down a conversation on the podcast, it’s all elementary math in the end: She adds, subtracts, multiplies for effect, and divides for readability. When she’s not helping words live their most meaningful life, she’s usually in the woods, in the ocean, on a rock, or on the road.

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