It was an interesting week here in Belgium and that got me thinking about simple mistakes marketers overlook when appointing and managing agencies, and how these (simple) mistakes can also have dire consequences:
1. Focusing on shiny objects
I’ve written before on how to avoid shiny object syndrome in a pitch, but the principle holds true throughout an agency relationship. Shiny objects are a mesmerizing distraction that has you focusing on one thing rather than focusing on the bigger strategic or business issues you’re trying to address.
2. Squeezing agencies too hard
With budgets under pressure, one of the big line items marketers typically look at is how they can reduce agency costs. While there may be logical areas to cut, it’s important for marketers to understand the boundaries between smart cost cutting and squeezing too hard. This applies to both the amount you’re paying and your payment terms. While squeezing too hard may give you short-term relief in costs, it’ll almost certainly give you a long-term headache that could potentially have the opposite effect of actually increasing costs.
3. Not partnering with procurement
One of the biggest mistakes made by marketing and procurement teams is leveraging the marketer’s brand to lower prices to unsustainable levels. Marketers need to work with procurement teams to define the right balance between cost and value, because low rates that are too good to be true, usually are and the agency will ultimately have to cut corners to keep and maintain your business in the long-term.
4. Not paying attention to detail
It doesn’t matter how good, clever, witty or emotionally relevant your marketing efforts may be if the detail that supports it doesn’t live up to expectations. I’ve seen advertiser-agency relationships break over quality assurance issues – even when the material concerned wasn’t consumer facing.
5. Lack of transparency
Whether it’s communicating with your partners or your customers, a lack of transparency is a sure way to gamble with trouble. While transparency of the marketing message is key to gaining and maintaining consumer trust, so too is transparency in your dealings within the marketer-agency relationship. Any lack of transparency – however small – creates questions around trust, and nobody wants to work with a partner they can’t trust.
Yes, mistakes happen. But many mistakes in managing marketer-agency relationships are easily avoidable, and need not have dire consequences if managed appropriately. In fact, mistakes can often be blessings in disguise, enabling us to grow, learn and avoid them next time around and, as James Joyce once said, “mistakes are the portals of discovery”.
Have mistakes led you to “portals of discovery”?
Written Stephan Argent, CEO of The Argedia Group, Canada’s leading agency search consultancy and author of the Association of Canadian Advertisers 2015 guidebook on Searching For A Marketing Communications Agency Partner.