Current and Future Compensation Models for Agencies and Brand Marketers


In April 2017 our CEO Mike Krass had the pleasure of interviewing Jeremy Epstein, founder and CEO of Never Stop Marketing and blockchain marketing evangelist.

Their discussion covered a few different topics:

Current and future compensation models for brand marketers and marketing agencies An introduction to blockchain for marketers: the basics, discussing the “but what if i can’t code?” question and future marketing opportunities powered by Blockchain Blockchain adoption and use cases amongst MarTech and AdTech.

In this first post we’re going to cover current trends in compensation for marketing agencies as well as brand marketers that are their clients.

We’ve transcribed and tightened up the interview for your reading pleasure below. Feel free to watch the video at the top of this post as well.

Mike: Would you please introduce yourself to our readers, viewers and listeners?

Jeremy: Never Stop Marketing is a marketing services firm specifically focused on helping blockchain startups get to market faster, more effectively, and with less risk. It’s really just an outgrowth of my passion for marketing and my fervent belief that I want to do everything I can to help bring this blockchain enabled word to the present as quickly as possible.

Mike: I want to start talking about compensation for marketing firms. So in your role you’ve got a lot of experience with compensation I’m sure, from both vendors as well as contractors or FTE’s. Could you describe a few of the more common compensation formats you’re familiar with for external professional services firm?

Jeremy: That’s always one of the big challenges for us in the services industry is how do you really measure your impact? I could just tell you what I do, which is I really focus on value. I never charge by time, and I actually refuse pay based on hours because to me the trap we can fall into as marketers is thinking about activity. Nobody pays for activity. People pay for outcomes. So I think what we, as an industry, or as great marketing services people, say “I want to get paid on the outcome. What are the deliverables?” So I’m going to give you plan, or I’m going to … If you’re a search engine marketing firm, I’m going to move you from number five to number one, and I should be paid accordingly.

The first way you can structure compensation is like this: “Okay, I’ll give you a base contract of $2,000 or whatever just for doing it, but the real money comes on top.”

Number two is equity, or skin in the game. For every deal I do, unless the client doesn’t want it, I always offer an equity component to the deal. Why? A, I like having skin in the game. It makes me feel more invested, it makes me feel more part of the team. But more importantly than that, I like it that my clients know I have skin in the game because we always talk about “Oh, I want to be your partner. I want to be your partner.” Fine. You want to be my partner? Have some skin in the game with me. Really be part of it. And that make me take some of the risk off of my clients plate, and puts it on me. And it’s on me to deliver. I’ve been on the other side of it, head of marketing of a company that’s worth 2 billion dollars. I’ve run my own firm a couple times. I’ve hired services firms. So I want to know that I’m actually going to be paying for people who are really committed and not just churning hours.

So for me, compensation model is what value are you going to deliver? And let’s work according to that. And then have skin in the game and equity

Mike: It is. And you actually set me up perfectly. Let’s talk about the flip side of that coin. I’m working at a brand. How am I being compensated? How am I being rewarded or punished?

Jeremy: I think the challenge for a lot of brands, if when we say brands we mean larger companies, is that your ability to actually measure the impact of a given individual is really challenging. When I was at Sprinkler you probably had about 55 people in my organization and I tried to be very clear on the outcomes that each person was responsible for delivering.

Most clients [in my opinion] are very lazy. If managing a vendor, or managing employees is a lot of work, it’s probably your number one job when you’re an executive [at a brand]. You just have to be crystal clear about what the outcomes are. What do you expect? And then you can say “Look. I’m going to set a very aggressive goal, and if you hit it phenomenal. If you come close, I’m still pretty happy,” and you can assess sort of the effort when you can see where you’re going. It’s like “Look. At the end of the day I’m hiring you to get my search engine rankings from number five to number one. Did you do it? Did you not do it?” That’s what I’m looking for.

I think it’s the same type of expectation you put on a services firm. If you think about it an employee is basically a full-time service provider to the brand, and you have to manage it, or you have to set the same types of expectations. Where most companies fall down is that risk reward ratio is so out of whack. If you really do a good job and deliver outcomes, maybe you’ll get a couple thousand dollar bonus or a promotion. But if you really swing for the fences and try to do something innovative, that’s really going to potentially change the game, but you miss, you know what your reward is? You’re fired. So it’s not a good trade-off whereas a services firm and an entrepreneur you risk big, you win big, it’s on you. You risk big, you lose big, okay you know what, come back another day. So I think that compensation model inside of a [brand] is out of whack. Again it all comes down to outcomes.

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