Growing up, my father owned an IT business; his business, rightly so, was focused on servicing clients ahead of marketing himself. In that era, word-of-mouth sufficed, but there was always a lack of additional promotion. And at Sprout Performance, I realised a similar pattern with respect to how we portray ourselves in the market and largely on our own website. We are really strong in servicing clientele, but often lack in paying attention to ourselves.
Sprout Performance has evolved a lot, crucial in an environment where changes are the norm. Our focus internally has being on doing the best for our client roster, and at times neglecting ourselves in a sense. This culminated in one of our biggest client wins in 2021, where we managed to win the business of the FirstRand Group after a successful five-year relationship with First National Bank. We’d poured our heart and soul into servicing FNB and that passion really showed throughout the RFP process, but when it came to announcing it we realised that our website just didn’t tell the right story. It painted a picture of Sprout five years ago, not the company we are today. And so we set out to reboot and refresh (and are still in the process of updating and optimising the content). Going through all of this has allowed us the opportunity to reflect on that journey.
Sprout Performance Partners really started after the acquisition of a small search agency. Two of our founders came from the Netherlands, where media buying was more advanced, and saw the opportunity in SA where the landscape was dominated by simply buying impressions through programmatic focused agencies. No-one was really looking at the full funnel, and specifically at attributed value. Programmatic buying is far more than just impressions, and looking at a last click attribution model is often not very flattering to its real value. Shortly after the acquisition, we managed to land one of the biggest media accounts in the country through telling the right narrative – there was a strong belief in what we did, and an honest assessment of the agency landscape in SA. Our evolution had begun.
Since then, we’ve been lucky enough to push the boundaries of performance media and build a thriving agency. We’ve built strong relationships with clients, platforms, publishers and our people; that ambition is literally in our name – Sprout Performance Partners. There are a lot of highlights, but here are a few of the standouts over the years:
- The FNB account win, building the relationship for 5 years and then the larger Group win (WesBank, DirectAxis, FNB, MotoVantage).
- Dynamic Creative, and building our in-house creative production capabilities.
- Preparing major advertisers for a cookie-less environment.
- Presenting the agency perspective on Digital Marketing Transformation to Google’s EMEA teams, after successfully moving clients into the multi-moment level (a journey that is constantly evolving).
- The founding of the consultancy arm of the business, and executing projects on behalf of Google as Google Marketing Platform service partner.
- Being featured on Think With Google for our thought leadership on Digital Marketing Transformation.
The future at Sprout Performance Partners looks to be an exciting one. We’re invested in driving digital transformation and improving performance for our clients. We’ve managed to get through the pandemic with growth, an increase in staff numbers and increasing our support and wellness programmes for all staff. With all of this going on, we’ve also managed to relaunch our website which we believe reflects the true image of our agency.
Kevin Metcalf is head of Paid Media at Sprout Performance Partners.