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ROI Means Treating Your Agency As Your Partner

I have had the opportunity to work with client teams at some of the world’s best recognized brands — across a range of categories — from packaged goods and spirits to pet food and consumer electronics. One thing they have taught me is that good marketing agency help does not come cheap.

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I have had the opportunity
to work with client teams at some of the world’s best recognized brands —
across a range of categories — from packaged goods and spirits to pet food and
consumer electronics. One thing they have taught me is that good marketing
agency help does not come cheap.

Brands all want and need
smart, creative, and talented problem solvers to break through the issues and
give an outsider’s perspective on marketplace challenges. Yet all too often,
securing the most value from that agency relationship is not managed as a top
priority. Invariably, over time, the relationship and the quality of work wanes
and it again costs time and money to bring a new partner on board. But that
doesn’t have to happen! Here are three secrets I have gleaned from some of my best
brands on how clients can get great agency work at a fair price:

 (1) Be direct.  While
some agency folks admittedly might be mistaken for carnies, most of us are
neither mindreaders nor psychics — nor even telekinetic. The best agencies know
how to listen. What we need to hear is clarity about what you are looking for
(see #2) and comprehensiveness in the information you can share. These two
simple things will make us much better able to view the problem through your
lens. It will also save us time and you money.

(2) Briefs are
bibles.
 Honestly, if I lined up briefs from three different companies
across three different product categories that I have seen this year, and if I
covered up the brand names, you might not be able to tell which was which. Try
this for your own brand and see if you pass the test. Agencies live and die by
their ability to translate a brand brief into actionable messaging and imagery
that will motivate consumers to take action. But if a brand team is just doing
a cut-and-paste job — and thus poorly or broadly defining their brand, their
consumer, their challenges — then their program budget to solve those problems
will be poorly used.

(3) A little
appreciation goes a long way
.  We agency people are a sensitive bunch.
Our service-oriented nature makes us a bit like golden retriever puppies: we
really, really, really want to make you happy — so much so that to get it right
we will sacrifice nights and weekends on the hunt. We want to come through for
you. Yet too often our client presentations are followed by commentary so
sparse we can hear the chirping of crickets. What agencies would prefer is an
open discussion with the client. You’d be amazed how important constructive
feedback and open dialogue is. We’re not asking for a fruit basket, although
fruit is better than flowers in my book, but you would be surprised how some
simple recognition for the work and effort goes a long way toward motivating
the team to do even better. That’s what partnership is all about. While our
accountant will tell us to work for anyone who pays their bills promptly, the
client who gets our best work — and the fewest billable hours — is the one whom
the creative people want to work for. When you’re partners, you tend to be more
productive. Isn’t that hunting dog happier when he knows your success depends
on him?

I hope everyone who
reads this thinks they are already following these three recommendations. But
the truth is that most of our clients are not. Recognize that if you want to
get more value out of your agency, as well as immediately improve your ROI, it
really is that simple. Treat your agency right and they’ll be your best friend.

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And without the fleas.

 

The Game Changer • Los
Angeles • www.catapultmarketing.com

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