I’m not an ad guy. Pretty risky statement for an agency VP who’s supposed to be a strategy guru.
A marketing guy raised on the client side of the business. And after many years on board with the agency that was my primary resource as marketing director for some pretty big communications companies, I have to share my biggest learning.
Clients simply do not lean on their ad agencies enough. At least not for the right things. See, I’m not talking about overnight turn-around on email blasts or video spots. I’m not even talking about “will you guys explain that SEO SEM PPC SMO BFF LMAO WTF thing to me.” I’m talking about marketing. Ideas. Innovative media strategies. Competitive set analysis. Brand differentiation. As a corporate marketer, it’s the stuff that I figured could only be really well thought out inside the walls of my own department, by my own staff. That’s the stuff that I was accountable for; how could I push it out to others? But I was selling myself short, and putting way too much pressure on my staff. A CEO or business owner that is really willing to engage its agency SHOULD find a valuable experience base to leverage
Agencies are full of energy, fresh learning, initiative and yes, creativity. Lean on them for new media strategies, completely zero-based thinking and budgeting. Challenge them to develop your marketing plan.
You’ll be amazed at the depth of thinking, assuming of course that you’re talking to the right agencies. Start your work with an agency by providing just one piece of information; your BUSINESS objectives. Find out if your agency is built on marketing muscle or not. Make the agency accountable for the marketing strategies and ideas that will achieve those objectives. At least lean on them for fuel and energy to ignite marketing ideas within your company.
If your agency is not willing to play at that level, to start from that position, then you have the wrong partner. I’m so much smarter now than I was on the client side. If ever I find myself back there again, I know exactly where my marketing muscle will come from.