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.

Maybe we all could use a refresher course in basic business etiquette. In particular, the courtesy of a reply goes a long way toward making the right impression. If you’ve asked an agency or a vendor for information, a favor, or a proposal, please extend the courtesy of a response once they’ve met with your request. 

It can be just a simple acknowledgement that their proposal was received, or even a quick update to say you’re swamped and can’t properly respond at present. If nothing else, a nicely worded “get lost” would be better than no word at all. 

Fundamental business courtesies pay dividends. If an agency or vendor makes some form of proposal, and you don’t provide feedback, you might be saying any of the following:

  • You didn’t get the proposal when, in fact, you did. This opens you up to repeated follow-ups, wasting both your time and theirs.
  • That you haven’t made a decision yet because the whole matter is still under review. If that’s true, just say so.
  • The letter/proposal went into your spam folder. (Many people don’t ask for a “read receipt” for fear of irritating the recipient.) 
  • Your silence means “no,” or something has changed. Remember:  Any answer is better than no answer.
  • You’re waiting for answers from others. If that’s the case, let the other party know. 
  • You’re a procrastinator, disorganized or both. 

Whatever the actual scenario, your silence can be deafening to someone expecting a reply. So please try your best to respond in some way. When someone has given you time and attention, that’s something of value. You may feel it’s not important or of no immediate benefit to you personally. But that’s where you’re wrong. 

With a non-answer, you’re sending a clear message that you’re unprofessional. In an always-connected world with rapid-fire communication, that reputation can quickly spread. Not to mention that, should you ever develop a real need from the same person or business, perhaps a much more urgent one, the other party will remember your lack of courtesy and label you a poor investment of time.