15 Ways to Get the Best Out of Your Agency.
James Payne – Creative Director
I have recently been re-reading one of the most influential books in the industry “Confessions of an Advertising Man” by David Ogilvy. While the book speaks of an era of advertising that has some profound differences to the current methodology of content marketing, its core lessons are still very much relevant. One chapter that resonates with me in particular is the 15 Ways to Get the Best Out of your Agency. Utilising Ogilvy’s key points I have elaborated based on our experience. I have been lucky enough to have spent years finding what inspires creatives, how to cultivate healthy client/agency relationships and importantly, what gets results. It doesn’t matter whether you are looking for a new agency, have one currently or are new to the game. Have a read, ask these questions for your own situation and make sure you get the most out of your agency.
1. Emancipate your agency from fear:
The analogy over simplifies the situation but the quickest way to explain this is, “the carrot over the stick”. There are plenty of leadership styles in other industries that work effectively. For example, every leader of a sales team I have ever met fits a certain personality type. They are charismatic, passionate and have a tendency to motivate their team by lighting a fire under them and ensuring they are reminded daily what happens if they don’t reach KPI’s. This attitude however, doesn’t work in the advertising industry. In fact, it costs clients & agencies money, time and creates terrible advertising. $10,000 of effective advertising can out perform $100,000 of uninspiring ad placement any day of the week. The best ideas (read: the ones that actually achieve an ROI) don’t come off a conveyor belt, it takes a creative team with the balls to go for it and the relationship with the client to ensure it can be executed correctly.
You have gone through the grueling process of selecting an agency. You have sat through the meetings, the pitch and gone through the process of learning each other’s business. Now is the time to trust each other. Set review periods, whether they be quarterly, bi-annual, it doesn’t really matter. In between those periods however, ditch the fear tactics, be honest and work with your agency to get the best results for your business.
Ogilvy offers these key points:
a) Will the appointment of a new agency solve your problem, or merely sweep it under the rug? What are the real roots of your problem?
b) Has your product been made obsolete by your competitors?
c) Did you dictate the advertising for which you now blame your agency?
d) Is your advertising manager such a jackass that he/she would negate the best brains in any agency?
e) How do you feel about one of your competitors inheriting the secrets which your agency has acquired in your service?
f) Do you realise that a change in agency may interrupt your marketing for 12 months or more?
2. Select the right agency in the first place
You have a problem. Whether it be driving sales, brand recognition, expansion, product research or all of the above. Your agency is there to work with you to solve that problem. You are going to have to deal with these people daily. They are the first people you turn to during the tough times and they should be the first call in the good times as well.
If you are going to have to spend this much time with a team, trust them with your business and put in the hard yards together…. pick the right bloody people. One of the best lessons I have learnt during my time in the industry is work with the right people.
Learn how each other works and how to push each other in a healthy way. The client/agency relationship is always a fine line of pushing each other to achieve things that you couldn’t without each other. Embrace this process, celebrate the wins and inspire each other during the lean times. Find people who are just as passionate as you are, ones who care about your industry. If you wouldn’t invite your agency to your Christmas party then find the one you would.
3. Brief your agency very thoroughly indeed.
You want your agency to be just as passionate about your business as you are. Providing your sales targets and KPI’s isn’t going to cut it. Show them your business, let them learn your product. Grab your best salesman and marketing manager and get them to take your agency on tour. You are going to invest 10’s of thousands with your agency. Make sure they know your product and they know your people. If your agency doesn’t want to buy your products then you haven’t done your job.
4. Do not compete with your agency in the creative department.
Ogilvy: Why keep a dog and bark yourself.
If you picked the right agency, why the hell would you want to try an advertise yourself. You put the agency through the trenches to select them. Now is time to let them earn their money. Client feedback is critical. Talk about what you know. When providing feedback to your agency, comment on your product, your client base and the elements you know better than most. Don’t waste your time commenting on strategy, design or execution. You are paying for a team of people who devote their life to their craft, if you don’t believe they can do a better job than you, find someone else.
5. Coddle the Goose who lays the Golden Eggs
In any business, your product or service is incredibly important. Quality, innovation and value are all big contributors to your businesses success. This is completely in your control. Your agency can’t control these factors. They do affect who sees your product, how your product is seen and ultimately how successful it is. Look at where your company spends. Not just money, but time. If it takes you 12 months to develop a new product with industry professionals, why would you only allow 3-4 weeks for the entire launch campaign. Work with your agency during the R&D process. Let them be just as involved and passionate about your new product/service as you are. This also means that they have time to prepare your audience, to research and to create amazing insights and campaigns that will end up being the difference between success and failure.
Points 5-10 Coming Soon