20 Jun How to get some agency love back
You could be forgiven for thinking the marketer-agency relationship was broken beyond repair. In the last few years we have lived through a world where ex-CEOs of large media groups admit to widespread ‘stealing’ of their client’s money via publisher kick-backs, where creative agencies continue to charge 1980s mark-ups for production, digital aggregators arbitrage inventory at exorbitant rates and media agencies mis-report results to hit targets. And that’s just the agencies.
Marketers are far from blameless, with some commentators believing it is the rise of procurement-led pitches squeezing fees to unsustainable levels that started this whole cycle of underhand moneymaking. Many agencies are barely able to fund servicing a client, let alone add some strategic or creative value. Furthermore, newly aware of the new ‘kickback’ model, many clients around the world are requesting a share of the money themselves, effectively asking for their marketing budget back.
It ain’t pretty. But it ain’t over.
Marketers need agencies. They need them to stretch their thinking, shine a light on an insight, bring specialist skills & talent, deliver aggregated cost savings, provide non-political answers to problems and importantly inject some fun and personality into corporate life!
So, what’s the answer? How do we bring the trust back? How do we create a value exchange that works for everyone?
Well, we could start with some honesty.
Honesty about our motivations for working together.
Honesty about what we expect from each other.
Honesty about what we can and can’t do well.
Honesty in meetings.
Honesty about how remuneration works.
Honesty in reporting results.
Honesty about fuck ups.
Honesty about what’s working and what’s not.
This is not about people telling each other their every thought, more about having frank, open, respectful dialogues that result in a thriving relationship, better work and improved results.
As consumers we expect brands to be truthful, transparent and inspiring; so we should demand that of ourselves and our agency partners. Honesty can be enlightening and challenging in equal measure but the outcome is always more rewarding.