Like the start of any relationship, agencies and clients come together with the best of intentions—each expecting a mutually beneficial outcome. Yet recent research shows that only about 40% of marketers are “truly happy” with their ad agencies. Repeated studies show that this dissatisfaction level stays about the same year after year. And just as alarming, only 55% of marketers say they would consider using their ad agency again IF they put their account up for review.
These statistics should sound the alarm for both advertisers and ad agencies alike. Think of all the time and money both sides invest in building a foundation for the relationship—all the hours spent on the transfer of information necessary to operate efficiently. Surely, there must be ways for these marriages to last long enough to recoup this substantial outlay
Here’s what both sides need to do to get the most from their initial investment of time and resources…
For client marketers, studies suggest a need to:
- Work harder at providing clear direction and access to information that can make your agency smarter.
- Be a good listener and show a willingness to experiment. Provide clear-cut feedback even when the news is bad.
- Expect accountability on money matters and pay in a timely fashion.
- Take time to review your agency the same way you’d review an employee. Tell them what’s going right and what areas need improvement. This will lay the groundwork for successful collaboration.
- Effectively coordinate efforts among multiple agencies if you have multiple resources. Don’t expect one agency to “magically” orchestrate and integrate the efforts of the others. OR, recognize the value of one full-service agency with a single point of contact.
For ad agencies, studies of advertiser views show that the focus must be on:
- Thinking strategically—finding new approaches to the client’s marketplace and/or communications with the target audience. Provide an objective viewpoint to help determine what the brand stands for.
- Gaining a better understanding of the client’s business and market. Better insight equals better strategies and ideas. And ideas don’t have to be just about ads.
- Developing unique creative solutions to execute the strategies defined, whatever the medium.
- Presenting multiple creative options in response to assignments. Go the extra mile.
- Offering a keen sense of today’s media choices and how to squeeze maximum value out of every dollar.
- Establishing effective collaboration. Whether it’s with one person, an entire in-house creative services group, a sales team or whatever, build relationships that result in better work.
- Maintaining good stewardship of money. Provide estimates. Be financially accountable.
A little extra time and initiative from both parties will go a long way toward avoiding an untimely and costly split. After all, learning to work effectively with an existing agency—one that’s already up to speed on your business--is always more cost-effective than searching for and training a new one.