I have conducted agency searches for clients such as Jenny Craig, Villeroy & Boch, and Raley’s Supermarkets.
Part of the suite of marketing services that Hank Blank offers.
I always advocated that clients conduct regular agency evaluations. Let me be clear. This does not mean an agency review where you meet with other agencies. This is where you sit down with your current agency partner to make sure your relationship is robust and justifies their fees.
When I initially meet with clients about possibly helping them with an agency search they often share that they and the agency aren’t aligned. The client organizes a dinner meeting to read the agency the riot act and the agency thinks it is going to be a love fest. Both parties aren’t on the same page.
How do clients and agencies align? Communication. What is one of the major client frustrations with agencies? Poor communication. The lack of connection and understanding. The second greatest frustration is that the clients don’t think their agency understands their business.
That is why I recommend that a client and their agencies sit down and have an evaluation session every six months. The rule of thumb used to be once yearly but the world is changing too quickly these days. Somebody sent me an e mail today that Apple will sell 100 Million iPads by 2012.
Why? It is quite simple. The world has changed as the speed of technology has changed. These are times of constant checking in and assessments. Not paranoia but making sure everyone has the same vision.
Also, in many cases I think the agency-client dialogue became less frequent in the past years after the world changed in August 2008 when the world melted. Budgets declined and with that the client-agency daily dialogue and many relationships weakened. If clients don’t feel love they can gravitate to new suitors who pursue them more aggressively.
Most agencies used to try to avoid agency evaluations because they were worried issues would pop up. They need to have an attitude adjustment. I would prefer to hear about problems in the early stages that can be fixed rather than getting a call from a client saying they are going to be doing a review.
I also encourage agencies to organize an Idea Day for your clients twice a year. Some of these innovations can be brought by outside partners such as iPad Application developers. I talk to agencies who pitch a lot of New Business and they say the process invigorates the agency and they give the prospect they are pitching new and interesting ideas. The best of their thinking. Then they realize that they may not be providing that level of ideation for the current revenue providing clients.
They are chasing the newest prospect but neglecting bringing home the love.
Give your current clients your best thinking. They are your best opportunity for growth. Just make sure that they still love you by suggesting an agency evaluation. They will respect your courage and leadership.
Hank Blank is an agency search consultant based in Laguna Niguel, CA. He has conducted reviews for companies such as Jenny Craig, Villeroy & Bock, and Raley’s Supermarkets. He also helps agencies with New Business Development. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting his site at www.hankblank.com to check out his CD called Why Agencies Don’t Want New Business.