I use the term “Agency” loosely. These days everybody wants to sell to the Marketing department. As well as media agencies, marketing agencies we now find ourselves increasingly in conversations with various shades of technology supplier, all hoping to relieve us of our marketing budgets with promises of astonishing ROIs (always amusing, since most agencies don’t even have the visibility of the sales pipeline in order to even measure the ROI!)
Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with some great agencies and some great people within those agencies. Just to be clear – I do mean YOU. However I’ve also worked with a number of distinctly average people from both great and average agencies. For clarity – yes, I mean THEM! I also used get approached on a very regular basis by agencies wanting to get 30 minutes in my diary to explore how they might be able to help me.
So let me give you a few personal observations on my experiences in dealing with agencies of various shades over the years. If you are client side and can add some further observations, I’d love to hear from you. If you are in an agency, I’d be delighted if you want to get in touch – perhaps I can help…
One of the only things that kept me sane and fresh was interactions outside of the company – with clients, at conferences, or with agencies. But time was very limited so the default response to any approach had to be – “sorry I can’t make a meeting, but if you want to send me something I’ll probably ignore it”.
That Don’t Impress Me Much
I rarely felt this was a great use of my time. I wanted more than credentials. I’m not silly. I know that you will put, for instance, the Coca-Cola logo in your credentials even all that you did was design an internal email header 10 years ago. I get that – would probably do the same. That’s why I’m not impressed. Oh and by the way – my business is nothing like Coke’s, so only focus on relevant client stories.
- What make you any different from every other agency I’ve seen this month? I’m looking to make a quick decision on whether we will ever have another meeting. No matter how affable I may seem – I’ve not invited you in for a chat.
- Can you clearly articulate the breadth of your agency’s capabilities? I want to have relationships with as few partners as possible. That means I want to see understand what you can do beyond some nice creative. What value can you and your colleageues add to help ease my business pains. Otherwise I think you are just another creative agency, and that you are the only talent there.
- Have you come to the meeting with a provocative point of view on something I really care about? Do you know what the key challenges are for a business marketing leader today? Have you researched to get a sense of my particular challenges and focus areas? Do you have specific capabilities that could help me address my key challenges? Do you share the passions I do?
- Will you disagree with me? I don’t want an agency full of yes men. That simply means you will do what I want rather than what is right for the customer/market. If all I wanted was resource, I could have secured it much cheaper than talking to you. I want someone who has opinions and real insight – not just telling me what they learned in a 5 minute Google search.
- Will you educate me? I like to learn about new approaches that I haven’t previously considered. Give me a fact or two that I might be able to use into one of my next meetings.
- Can I talk to your clients? I was always keen to engage with other people in a similar position to myself on a peer to peer basis. If you can make some connections for me I have an immediate reason to start building a relationship.
- What are the next steps? I used to be constantly surprised at how many initial meetings ended with a limp “I’ll call you again in a few weeks”. What are you going to do next? What do you want me to do next?