David Indo
By David Indo
Aug 6, 2014 5:14:45 PM

A Great Advertiser Gets A Great Agency


What marks out a great client? In the third of the series, David Indo explains how the best clients benefit from being very clear about what they want from their media agency.

Sometimes the simplest questions can be the hardest to answer. At our first meeting with a new or prospective client we ask them only two questions:

What do you want from your media agency?

What type of client are you willing to be?

They are simple and even slightly innocuous questions but they allow us to design a modern media governance process that helps them get the best from their media agency partner based on that client's current needs and state of development.

These two questions establish the boundaries for the relationship between the advertiser and their agency partner.

The first question helps define what kind of agency might be right for an individual advertiser and the second tells us what kind of internal culture and practices are in place (or could be developed).

Media agencies are world-class chameleons, they have learnt to adapt and react to the needs and demands of their clients. This is one of their greatest strengths; to be one type of agency for one client and then provide a completely different agency solution to another, based entirely on the unique requirements of each.

Good clients use this to their advantage by asking their agency to create a version of themselves based fundamentally on their operational structure and market needs.

A client with good media management practices will understand and be able to articulate what role they want their media agency to play. It may be as simple as delivering solid media planning and buying or it could be that the client sees particular value in the provision of thought leadership.

Often these days clients are looking for agencies to help them evolve and modernise their approach to marketing communications, perhaps shifting away from one that is overly reliant on broadcast to a model that is more engagement focused.

A good client has the clarity of vision to see what they need and will then work hard to define that role and translate that ambition into an aligned scope of work for the agency to work with.

This also allows them to clearly structure the contract terms to ensure the agency remains accountable and also design an agency remuneration model that rewards value delivery and (in a growing number of cases) a tangible contribution to business growth.

In our experience, the best clients aren't just focused on their external needs, they also look to their internal processes as well.This is where our second question is hugely revealing.

Good clients place great value in the art of briefing properly, providing just enough guidance and direction so that the agency is clear as to what the campaign is designed to achieve, whilst at the same time providing the freedom and scope to be insightful, strategic and innovative.

“Our experience is that good clients receive between 30% and 40% media value improvements over the clients who either badly manage their agencies or have poor media governance practices in place.”

Good clients are able to identify and assess the correct and appropriate strategies and provide the type of constructive feedback that enables and enhances improvement to the recommendation rather than diluting or neutralising it.

A good client in particular realises that great strategy will only live on PowerPoint if it's not executed in a brilliant way. They, therefore, encourage their agency to invest just as much energy in the implementation of a plan as they have done in the conception and development stage.

Finally, and perhaps fundamentally, a good client deals with their agency with professional courtesy. They are enthusiastic about media and its potential to deliver for their business and that is reflected in the respect they accord their external partners.

The general rule of thumb, sadly unquantifiable, is that the more mutually respectful and gracious a client and agency relationship is, the more productive and constructive the output generally is.

There will always be situations or occasions that require exceptional and perhaps unreasonable reactiveness - that's marketing folks - but these should be the exception rather than the rule.

The bottom line is that there are plenty of places where media value can be lost or hidden throughout the process from budget approval to strategy development all the way through to execution.

A good client takes actions or behaves in a way that ensures a succession of potentially leaky buckets are plugged all the way along that chain. This makes sure that value is at the very least protected if not ideally increased.

It does require effort but the rewards are worth it. Our experience is thatgood clients receive between 30% and 40% media value improvements over the clients who either badly manage their agencies or have poor media governance practices in place.

We define value as more than just the price of media, it's about the value created by harnessing the talent, innovation and ideas that exist within media agencies, Get that right and the financial benefits of being a good client are very, very clear.

This article was originally published on MediaTel's NewsLine on 5-May-2014