Recently, there have been several industry articles written about the shortcomings of ad agencies when it comes to the needs of the clients they serve. What has been made clear is the need for the agency to shift better and faster from "business as usual" and focus more on being strategic rather than solely creative.
As the principal of a firm that does media planning but doesn't produce creative, I feel we have a unique perspective on this topic. We have to work with creative shops or in-house creative teams but yet oftentimes by the time we're brought into the equation, a strategy (or perhaps sometimes just a course of action that truly lacks strategy) has been laid down for us to follow. That puts us in a position of having to ask "Why?" a lot. While we're used to this, it feels like many others on a media project are not or are uncomfortable with the proposition. But does this hesitation (or ignoring) of asking tough questions really serve the client's best interest in the end?
Why You Don't Ask "Why?"
Why does asking "Why?" feel so difficult...and how does this reluctance pose dangers to the overall health of the agency-client relationship? The answers may be rooted in fear:
Why You Should Push Back
Pushing back on clients (or, frankly, on your own internal teams too), done in a professional and effective manner, can mean the difference between a trusting agency-client relationship and one that's just a contract for services. Help build this trust for these tough-love reasons:
This brave new digital world calls for brave behavior. Are you ready to step up your game?
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Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."
March 19, 2014