Thursday, December 01, 2005

Don’t Shout

Clients change advertising and PR agencies for a variety of reasons…the agency-search consultants tell us so. You can check out consultants’ Web sites, you can talk to (or read interviews with) big-scale agency executives. The reasons will appear to be different depending on fashion. Maybe the old agency’s creative is “stale.” Maybe one party is just plain tired or fed up with the other.

There are as many different reasons for changing agencies as there are people who do the changing…because, I think, of the “quality of the interaction.”

This is a double-barreled challenge.

First, agency executives say clients are not looking for better creative so much as they are looking for changes in the quality of the interaction between their customers and their messages. You may choose to define this change any number of ways, which is what companies large and small are doing by cutting budgets for traditional media (radio and broadcast TV) and exploring new media – everything from hot cable shows to word-of-mouth or “guerilla” marketing.

In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, Lowe Worldwide Chairman Mark Wnek said that “…many creative executives are not ready for change. There is a profound love affair between creative executives and the little 30-second Hollywood films they create.” (That’s p. B28, 11/30, for non-subscribers.)

Improving the interactions between the clients’ messages and prospective customers, as demonstrated (for example) by the multi-media work for the Mini automobile and redefining quality-of-life a la Target department stores, suddenly makes for better sales, and therefore better client-agency relationships. Or at least better relations between the client and whomever is the trendy purveyor of the apparent solution.

Second is the old “interface” problem between the client people and the agency people. Good relationships in this context are worth their weight in gold. Bad ones lead to more changes.

In a post that’s meant to be relatively short, I don’t know how much detail you need about this part of the client-agency relationship. But I suggest that good chemistry is far more important in the selection and retention of marcom suppliers than most professionals credit.

In both cases, Miss Manners would perhaps say, “Stop shouting.” Amiability is perhaps worth more than some people think.

What do you think?

© Photographer: Peter Hansen Agency:

1 comment:

maryjom said...

As I've said for years... "It's always nice to be nice." I know, it's simplistic and possibly flip, but I have come to believe that relationship is everything in any service business. If it goes sour, it's over.

On another note (she said, self-servingly), basing solid creative on factual data makes it more difficult for clients to wiggle out of a relationship (but, who ever let a good fact get in the way?). And, data only goes so far if the relationship is bad.

The Data Goddess