Give good client


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The advertising industry puts a lot of effort into educating their staff and upgrading client management skills. I hope to share some of what I’ve learned over the years to provide some ideas to hold up the client side of the relationship.

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Give good client

  1. 1. Give Good Client ™ Getting the most from your agency relationships John L Franklin +1.612.578 2349© J Franklin Marketing LLC
  2. 2. Who am I? A passionate marketer who has only worked on the client side, but done lots of work with lots of agencies for lots of different companies and brands: BRANDS I’VE WORKED ON: AGENCIES I’VE WORKED WITH: – Caribou Coffee – Carmichael Lynch – Slim Jim® meat snacks – Colle+McVoy – Land O Lakes Foods – Venables, Bell and Partners – K2 Sports – Crispin, Porter + Bogusky – InSport apparel – RPM Connect – Campbell Mithun – Northwest Airlines – Sietsema Engel – KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – Saatchi & Saatchi DFS Dorland – Valentine Ligibel
  3. 3. What do I know?  I’m no expert, but I’ve benefited by learning from managers, colleagues and agency folks who have engaged in a range of behaviors that would confuse a psychologist.  The advertising industry puts a lot of effort into educating their staff and upgrading client management skills. I hope to share some of what I’ve learned over the years to provide some ideas to hold up the client side of the relationship.
  4. 4. The basics
  5. 5. Tip #1Your agency is your partner.  They live and breathe your brand like you do. They say “we” and “our” and mean it. Don’t keep stuff from them; trust is core to any relationship.  If you’re Audi, they sell their BMW’s and buy Audis. If you’re Coke and the waitress asks, “Is Pepsi ok?” – they’d rather drink water. Remember Jerry Maguire and Rod Tidwell? You are ONE.Coca-Cola® is a registered trademark of The Coca-Cola CompanyPepsi® is a registered trademark of PepsiCo, Inc.“Jerry Maguire” is a registered trademark of TriStar Pictures, Inc.
  6. 6. Tip #2Have your account team makethe pitch. I don’t honestly think there are many agencies left that rely on the Don Draper-like, 9th-inning save on a failing account pitch. HOWEVER, I would insist on a potential agency sending your potential account team to make your final presentation. See Tip #1; if you’re going to be ONE, then you need to feel like ONE. It’s all chemistry.
  7. 7. Tip #3Know your strategy. The creative presentation isn’t the time to discuss it and figure it out. This needs to be clear before you even write your project brief. If you’re still defining your strategy, the agency can be a great partner for that project itself, but it’s a separate topic. Write the brief, and give it the time it deserves demands.
  8. 8. Tip #4Keep your brief to one page. Your (client) brief is really a project brief – whenever possible, present it to your account team in person, where they will listen, ask questions, and provide feedback. This is not the brief that will go to the creative team: the account and planning folks will draft that brief in special agencyspeak (I think it’s related to Elvish) that only they understand and you don’t need to concern yourself with. You’re paying them; let them earn it.
  9. 9. Tip #5 Don’t be prescriptive. Let them explore. If you hold the reins too tight, or place the guardrails too narrow, you’ll only get what you want to hear. They may take one idea too far, but it may serve you down the line. We each have a vision of what we want our ad, shelf sign or package to look like – tell them what elements are your must- have’s, then let them bring the magic. I’m not saying to just toss out a softball, but your job is to provide the strategic direction, not the tactical execution.
  10. 10. Tip #6 Give honest feedback. “It’s not you, it’s me.” Bullshit. If you hate it, tell them. But let me tell you this: if none of the creative concepts are what you’re looking for, you probably didn’t communicate it well in your project brief. Listen to the concept presentation – especially the motivation, the feeling they are trying to capture. Even if it’s not right in front of you, it could be in there somewhere. Find the elements that ring with you, and guide their focus.
  11. 11. Tip #7Learn what your manager likes. Wanna move up in your organization? Find out how your manager likes to see butter melted on pancakes in her print ads. What tone he gravitates to in taglines. Read it, learn it, live it. Once they can trust you at a photo shoot or first-round copy presentation, you’ve taken one more thing off their plate, and that adds value. Get ready for a promotion.
  12. 12. Tip #8 Teach your children well.  This is the converse of #7 – be sure to include the junior members of your staff where appropriate: planning, briefings, photo shoots.  We learn by observing, and being in on the advertising is a carrot for a new marketer – at little or no extra cost to you.“Teach Your Children” © Graham Nash
  13. 13. The other stuff
  14. 14. Tip #9Be careful of the “it” agency. I’ve been cool enough to work with the “it” agency a number of times – it seldom works out. They got there by doing some really cool stuff for some really cool clients, but the time comes when they will want to select their clients rather than be selected. If you do latch onto an “it” agency, there’s a big risk that they’ll find someone more attractive and the quality of their work (= their love for you) will fade. Just like that cool guy/gal in high school.
  15. 15. Tip #10 Don’t ask your cute AE on a date. They’ll say “no”. It’s not that they don’t mean it when they are responsive or giggle or nod enthusiastically when you say something crafty or tell a good story about that time you and your best friend were Eurailing in Italy and met those two hotties and… Just keep it professional. Otherwise, your brand will lose a great AE when they get switched off your account, and you’ll lose personal points with the agency. And you still won’t have that date.
  16. 16. Tip #11 Don’t hang your agency out to dry.  I’ve witnessed withering agency relationships be neglected by clients without so much as a returned phone call, just like your 9th- grade girlfriend did. How’d that feel?  Remember: it’s not personal, it’s business. If you’re about to cut the cord, tell them to their faces, thank them sincerely for what they’ve done for you, and tell them what led to your decision. Then take them out for a drink.“The Godfather” is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures, Inc.
  17. 17. Putting it all together
  18. 18. Tip #12Just be cool. Classic advice when someone is trying a little too hard. Advertising does not mean getting a makeover before a photo shoot so you appear über-cool (yes, I’ve seen it done), or sending your agency’s AAE on Starbucks runs (that too), or trying to mix it up with your highly-paid talent (yep). Managing agency relationships is a crucial part of business, and merits its own time, effort and focus to make it work.
  19. 19. What it is In-house workshops Speaking engagements ConsultingWhere to get it +1.612.578 2349 @JohnLFranklin