Sonder | Rewiring client agency relationships
Perhaps this Independence Day should be a celebration not of past political victories, but of what the marketing services world needs more of in the future - independence.
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Rewiring agency client relationships

Rewiring agency client relationships

In last week’s post, ‘How to get some agency love back’,  we highlighted the importance of honesty in regards to removing the systemic deception and underhand money-making practices pervading the agency landscape.  Having a frank, open and respectful dialogue between client and agency will go a long way to creating a thriving relationship.  

But honesty and trust is difficult to establish if the opposite already exists.  

So in this post we look beyond moral behaviours and address the potential structural changes that can be implemented to improve current practices, specifically in relation to media agency relationships.

But first, a question for marketers – what are you most unhappy about?

      a) The fact agencies make more money than you thought?

      b) Your spend being used to make money for the agency and not with your best interests at heart?

      c) Both ‘a’ and ‘b’

The first is financial, the second is strategic and the third is human nature.  We think most of you will say ‘c’.

Annoyingly, there are no easy solutions regardless of how you answer the above question.  But, there are some simple structural actions every marketer should consider, such as:

  • In-housing more strategic decision-making with regards to investment.
  • Explore hybrid models, such as a dedicated mini-agency within a holding company.
  • Introduce third party consultants to establish transparency around your investment.
  • Pay your agencies for output as opposed to input.
  • Recruit an in-house media controller.
  • Foster and nurture direct media owner relationships.  

Some people are quick to point the finger of blame, our view is that neither marketers or agencies have created this predicament, but both are responsible for sorting it out.  We see it as the nature of shareholder owned businesses and the one-dimensional focus on revenue growth that erodes people’s ethics on both sides.  

Of course this attitude of ‘money first, client value second’, isn’t exclusive to large shareholder owned businesses, but these are the businesses under the most pressure to deliver growth, which leads to the unethical behaviour and distrust.

Non-shareholder owned businesses can hold themselves to something higher than just revenue growth and thus encourage the right behaviour.

So, marketers should consider assigning independent agencies for strategic recommendations on investment.  Fitting then that next week is 4 July, Independence Day.  Perhaps this should be a celebration not of past political victories, but of what we need more of in the future – independence.