What a client wants Notes from the dark side
Dear agency partner, Accept in advance my humblest apologies for the exercise in egg-sucking that is about to begin. I hop...
Don’t sell yourself <ul><li>‘ You can close more business in two months by seeming interested in other people than you can...
Be externally referenced <ul><li>‘ Few people do business well who do nothing else’   </li></ul><ul><li>Lord Chesterfield ...
Know your limits <ul><li>Not every business problem is a communications brief. </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes we clients get ...
Get an education <ul><li>Clients invariably know their business. Some will pretend to know yours. </li></ul><ul><li>Be fla...
Surround yourselves with clients <ul><li>Get in there. Spend time in client organisations - preferably several days a week...
Get in step <ul><li>Know your client’s planning cycle.  </li></ul><ul><li>Find out when he submits his budgets. When he re...
Get a grip on the numbers <ul><li>Get on every email circulation list which disseminates performance data on your client c...
Don’t get the brief right. Get the right brief. <ul><li>Sometimes I think we get the wrong answers because we ask ourselve...
Adspend is the last resort <ul><li>Spend your client’s money as if it were your own. </li></ul><ul><li>Exploit every last ...
Don’t let the cracks show <ul><li>We like integrated solutions more than we like integrated communications groups. </li></...
Be perfectly laid-back <ul><li>‘ One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is ...
Giftwrap it for us <ul><li>‘ As we could not improve our product, we improved the box’   </li></ul><ul><li>  (Unknown perf...
Focus on what matters <ul><li>Fighting about logo sizes is like arguing about the washing up. It’s one of the little thing...
The client defines success <ul><li>This is the great injustice of the communications world. He who pays gets to decide whe...
Your whole existence is performance-related <ul><li>Service companies exist to further the interests of their clients. </l...
‘ Yes’ is the answer <ul><li>We usually know when we’re asking the impossible. Say ‘Yes’, give it a go, and we’ll still lo...
A client’s work … <ul><li>‘ Too many people quit looking for work when they find a job’ </li></ul><ul><li>  J. Paul Getty ...
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The view from the dark side

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A brief guide to what marketers want from their agency(ies)

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The view from the dark side

  1. 1. What a client wants Notes from the dark side
  2. 2. Dear agency partner, Accept in advance my humblest apologies for the exercise in egg-sucking that is about to begin. I hope you will take the enclosed presentation in the spirit in which it is written: with a sense of warmth and fun and in grateful recognition of the help you gave me when starting out. If you can eke out even the smallest kernel of practicable insight from the observations to follow, I shall be pleased. With fondness, your humble domestically-based marketing middle-manager, Tom
  3. 3. Don’t sell yourself <ul><li>‘ You can close more business in two months by seeming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Dale Carnegie </li></ul><ul><li>A confession: most of us clients get quite bored sitting through credentials presentations. </li></ul><ul><li>We’d rather talk about ourselves. Or make sure you understand what we’re looking for. </li></ul><ul><li>The best way to win our business is to take a greater interest in and ask more questions about our problems than anyone else. </li></ul><ul><li>Listen as if for a pin to drop. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Be externally referenced <ul><li>‘ Few people do business well who do nothing else’ </li></ul><ul><li>Lord Chesterfield </li></ul><ul><li>Spot new stuff and tell us about it. </li></ul><ul><li>Most of us are profoundly uncool. We spend evenings feeding babies and watching telly with Simon Cowell in it. </li></ul><ul><li>Put your army of hipsters to work. Cross-pollinate the learnings from your clients. </li></ul><ul><li>Expose us to the great stuff you’ve seen at Cannes. Buy us the D&AD annual. </li></ul><ul><li>Help us dare to be cooler. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Know your limits <ul><li>Not every business problem is a communications brief. </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes we clients get desperate, and outsource the problem to someone we can kick if it goes wrong. </li></ul><ul><li>If you don’t think you can help - tell us. We’ll respect you more in the morning. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Get an education <ul><li>Clients invariably know their business. Some will pretend to know yours. </li></ul><ul><li>Be flattered by their interest and try to harness it. </li></ul><ul><li>Make room for them on your team’s training courses. Watch and critique ideas with them. Invest time and energy in them. </li></ul><ul><li>But insist on reciprocity. Expose your team to the best thinking in their category. Infiltrate their training plan. </li></ul><ul><li>Learn with them. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Surround yourselves with clients <ul><li>Get in there. Spend time in client organisations - preferably several days a week. Nothing endears like seeing your agency working alongside you - especially after hours. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s so much quicker - and more fun - when you’re in the same room </li></ul><ul><li>Meet the rest of the team - the researchers, the scientists, the commercial team, the lawyers. There is much to learn from them - and you’ll never know when you might need an ally. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Get in step <ul><li>Know your client’s planning cycle. </li></ul><ul><li>Find out when he submits his budgets. When he reviews the year. When he gets appraised by his boss. </li></ul><ul><li>Have the competitive review ready - because when businesses need information, they don’t issue much advanced warning. </li></ul><ul><li>Free up resource in advance. Be there for your client. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Get a grip on the numbers <ul><li>Get on every email circulation list which disseminates performance data on your client companies. </li></ul><ul><li>Read the analyst report. </li></ul><ul><li>But most importantly, get a copy of your client’s P&L. See where the marketing line fits in. </li></ul><ul><li>Look at your fees from the FD’s perspective. Then make it easy for him. Demonstrate that the actual return on your endeavours outweighs the cost of hiring you. </li></ul><ul><li>If you need to hire someone to do this, do it. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Don’t get the brief right. Get the right brief. <ul><li>Sometimes I think we get the wrong answers because we ask ourselves the wrong questions. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ What is the single-minded message?’ might be appropriate for a poster … but different consumer behaviours and a new marketing paradigm demand new questions. </li></ul><ul><li>In the digital age, a better question might be ‘Why would I want to get involved?’ </li></ul><ul><li>Templates might make us feel comfortable - but sometimes we need to mix it up a bit. </li></ul><ul><li>Let’s make the brief fit for purpose. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Adspend is the last resort <ul><li>Spend your client’s money as if it were your own. </li></ul><ul><li>Exploit every last bit of owned or earned media. Audit the social networks. Find and arm the brand ambassadors. </li></ul><ul><li>Only once your client’s brand permeates every possible realm of free media should you consider paying for it. </li></ul><ul><li>And when you do, make sure you demonstrate that every penny is driving incremental reach and reaching the parts that free media can’t. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Don’t let the cracks show <ul><li>We like integrated solutions more than we like integrated communications groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Solve our problem using the right channels. Present and deliver the answer, on time and on budget. </li></ul><ul><li>Then tell us that you got your affiliate PR agency / online experts / econometricians on the case. </li></ul><ul><li>Nothing underwhelms like a ‘360 solution’ that isn’t a solution at all - so under-promise and over-deliver. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Be perfectly laid-back <ul><li>‘ One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important’ </li></ul><ul><li>Bertrand Russell </li></ul><ul><li>Work hard but appear effortless. Nothing rattles a client like an agency that looks worried. Our job is to make things difficult enough for you to be brilliant on our behalf. </li></ul><ul><li>Be passionate, but never forget it’s only advertising - and there’ll be another idea. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Giftwrap it for us <ul><li>‘ As we could not improve our product, we improved the box’ </li></ul><ul><li> (Unknown perfume executive) </li></ul><ul><li>Anticipate our needs. Getting to the right creative solution is not always enough. </li></ul><ul><li>Recognise that you need to sell your idea to the finance director, the product manager, the research executive. Don’t presume to know the answer - often only your client can tell you. </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure the box is pretty and that the idea is swathed in the relevant rationale for the audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Accept that people will view the work like punters - but do everything you can to ensure ideas aren’t presented out of context. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Focus on what matters <ul><li>Fighting about logo sizes is like arguing about the washing up. It’s one of the little things that gradually destroys a relationship. </li></ul><ul><li>We’re paying. We get a big logo. End of. </li></ul>LOGO
  16. 16. The client defines success <ul><li>This is the great injustice of the communications world. He who pays gets to decide whether it’s any good. </li></ul><ul><li>If your client wanted to grow sales and you grew awareness - you have failed. </li></ul><ul><li>Embrace this. </li></ul><ul><li>Find out your client’s key performance metrics. This is your new language of success. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Your whole existence is performance-related <ul><li>Service companies exist to further the interests of their clients. </li></ul><ul><li>Find public, meaningful and imaginative ways to align your agency’s success with that of your clients. </li></ul><ul><li>Link your annual bonus to the percentage increase in your client’s share price. Display your client’s sales figures in reception. Celebrate their millionth customer as if your own. </li></ul><ul><li>Get some skin in the game and clients will make you part of the team. </li></ul>
  18. 18. ‘ Yes’ is the answer <ul><li>We usually know when we’re asking the impossible. Say ‘Yes’, give it a go, and we’ll still love you even if you fail. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Never say no when a client asks for something - even if it is the moon. You can always try, and anyhow there is plenty of time afterwards to explain that it was not possible’ </li></ul><ul><li> Caesar Ritz </li></ul>
  19. 19. A client’s work … <ul><li>‘ Too many people quit looking for work when they find a job’ </li></ul><ul><li> J. Paul Getty </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t stop looking for work. Don’t be snooty. Roll your sleeves up and tackle that recruitment ad. Or brochure. Or the invitation to the CEO’s annual garden party. </li></ul><ul><li>Humble work does not demean you. It elevates you. </li></ul>

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