Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clients, Wives and One Night Stands

Its Time to Nurture Clients as Family

Okay, let me tell you upfront that this is not a seedy take on extra-marital bang bangs but an allegory of client-agency relationships. As we move ever closer to the next frontier, there is no doubt that we are seeing a momentous alteration in the role of advertising and creative agencies. There are two key areas of change currently taking place. The first is, of course, the rising might of the New Media – read the power of the internet, social media, twitter, facebook, google, the eworks. The second and more understated, is the role ad agencies now play in developing a client's marketing and sales strategy and the growth of mature, continuing client relationships, like an enduring marriage.

The area of most spectacular change is, of course, New Media, as clients and agencies have become more adroit in using online advertising & electronic marketing as an effectual part of the overall marketing blend. Yet, many clients and many agencies are still not fully sentient of the opportunities available from marketing through the Internet and as time will surely tell, it will be much bigger and better than any of us can ever picture.

Lets now come back to our original reference of client and agency symbiosis. In the early days, agencies dealing with 'below the line' advertising or even conventional style advertising were driven by single one time projects or rather creative ‘one night stands’. Before and behind us stretched an apparently infinite set of very short term, tactical work, some of which might occasionally add up to something substantially larger and attractive, but still mostly one off projects. And customarily, the role of advertising agencies was to come up with the Big Idea first. Increasingly however, the spotlight now is to brainstorm, research, test and develop a longer term stratagem first. Once this is in place, the big ideas develop in tune with the strategy.

These long-term projects place greater importance on consumer research and the increased work put into client planning means that advertising & sales promotion activity has now become a much closer understanding of the consumer and the client needs. In turn, this has meant that strategic advertising and niche promotions have become more refined like a courtship, pregnant with unique dynamics that fit closely into the core offer of the targeted brand.

Many agencies fail to understand this and blame annoyed clients instead, reluctant to admit that something deep down in us still yearns for the good old one-time project days. We agency types just can’t kick the sales driven habit of running after those ‘one-night’ projects and as a result, our appearance at the client family table sometimes starts to look rather dubious. To continue the allegory, we may be pretending to eat, enjoying the food but apart, from that, our table manners still sometimes send out suspicious and wrong messages.

However, as caring wives, clients are increasingly enthusiastic to listen to what we have to say and welcome our participation as strategic advisers of the family. To improve that further still, we have to focus more on trust, building the business kindred links we have with our existing customers and ditch our ‘more orders, old sales’ unattached mentality. Unless we do that, the sound, valuable business advice and solid support we can give will go unheeded and a major opportunity to grow our business and industry will be mislaid.

We should not let that happen and break our client-centric families; the main reason because anyone who does continue to try to increase their business solely through new projects alone will find it more and more, difficult to grow. Clients are willing to work with us in new ways and the potential for significant growth and expansion is clearly still there. Perhaps, it's time to "say "adieu" to the one-off project and embrace clients as our newly wed wives. Shower them your love and they’ll love you back. After all, you are family.


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