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Do you have the agency you deserve?

Chris Field
Chris Field

You may have your own idea about what a marketing agency should do for you. Some clients think that the way to get what they want from an agency is to treat them badly. I think maybe once that worked, but it certainly doesn’t today, not that you could compel anyone under 40 to do what you want by being rude to them anyway. Others know that success depends on a collaboration between equals.

The difficulty comes when the client’s toxic or restrictive culture is visited on the agency, preventing them from getting the right work done. After all, why choose an agency if you are not prepared to listen to their advice, particularly if it is not what you want to hear, but you suspect is probably the right answer. If you choose an agency that agrees with everything you say then they are not really adding any value.

This is often how the agency sees it, so I assume you are looking for one that you can really work with to get things done. This is important because there is a lot of marketing going on that ticks boxes, spends budget, keeps people busy, but produces few or no results.

So, here are 10 things to ask your current or pitching agency.

You are unlikely to get perfect answers to many of them and you are unlikely to find the perfect agency, but at least you are performing a more meaningful role than legal or procurement.

  1. Will you really tell me what you think we should do?
  2. Will you respond positively when I tell you the budget has been cut?
  3. Will you invest in trying to understand my organisation better?
  4. Will you try and blame me for your own non-performance?
  5. Will you trade a deadline for a better piece of work?
  6. Do you understand the difference between KPIs and vanity metrics?
  7. Will you be honest with me if things start to go wrong?
  8. Will you keep the good ideas coming?
  9. Will you work creatively with the limitations of my corporate standards
  10. Will you give me all the ammunition I need when I am presenting to my line manager?

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