Tip 9 - Advice For Agencies Looking For An Edge - A Client's Perspective


bait and switch: When a fairly attractive woman or man introduces themselves to a group of the opposite sex in order to get their ugly friend in the door." - Urban Dictionary

If you are going to make the pitch, stick around to field the ball.

We all know the drill. The client tells a group of agencies it intends to review capabilities for potential engagement. If chosen, you’ll add that brand to your client list, unleash creativity for the market to admire and enjoy a valued relationship for years to come.

Weeks later, after copious information exchange, your agency is up to speed on the mission, vision, values, business model and unique selling proposition of the brand. It’s time for your pitch. You walk into the client’s conference room with your agency’s founder, owner, partners, president, creative chief and head strategist.

Whether you flew across the country or walked across town, at that very moment the client’s brand is Priority No. 1 in your minds. You say all the right things. Collectively, you’re the best and brightest your office has to offer. You’re experienced, smart and really seem to understand the client’s needs. You know them as a brand, a business and as people. It feels just right.

So, your agency gets the order, the account and the business. The client gets your promise and thinks, “This might be the start of a professional partnership.”

And then it happens. 

Once the excitement settles down and a rhythm of work commences, your original leadership group calls on the client less and less. Phone calls dwindle, emails ebb. Now your client sits across the table from your campaign coordinators, media specialists, planners, associate writers—even an occasional intern “who would really benefit from the experience.”

To the client, it just feels wrong. Words like “bait and switch” and “over-promise, under-deliver” come to mind. If not in the defined deliverables and creative applications, certainly in the relationship.

In an industry where brands cycle through agency partners in a constant search for what’s hot, what’s new and what’s next, can a successful agency really afford not to invest leadership capital in the relationship? I don’t think so.

Trust and relationships are what bind agencies and clients over time. If you didn’t send the junior, assistant or apprentice copywriter to pitch for the business, then don’t send her to manage the account. When I buy the principals of the firm, I want those same people to be available, aware and engaged. Respect the client’s chain of command, without losing sight of the leader.

Marketing NW - Sm
Note: This months issue of Marketing NW has published the second of three articles in the series of tips for agencies from the clients perspective. It's a pleasure to be associated with a Northwest Publication that has served our industry so well for so many years. My thanks to publisher Larry Coffman

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The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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