Sunday, November 14, 2010

what clients really want from an agency

Whether your client sells cookies or cakes, the crack of the bat, a closer look at the Liberty Bell or insurance that pays for your next fender bender, clients are asking for the same few things.

Why can't we just give them to our clients and start a beautiful new relationship?

This week I had the chance to attend a breakfast program sponsored by the Philadlelphia Ad Club at the Union League in downtown Philadelphia. The panel consisted of directors of strategy and marketing officers from Wawa, Tasty Baking(makers of krimpets and tandytakes), the Phillies, PA Tourism and Cure Auto Care. Heavyweights, one and all presiding over the group consisting of a couple hundred people.

During the Q&A, one brave soul asked what everyone in the assembled audience(at least the ad agency people in attendance) wanted to know.

What could agencies do or say to get your attention? Of course, meaning, what would agencies in the area need to do to crack the ranks of these highly visible and beloved brands?

Here's what several had to say:

1. "Nimbleness"--clients are trying to do more with less and want agencies that are fast on their feet and can stay a few steps ahead of the game. My problem is that everyone--including agencies--claim to be nimble and frankly it's often more wishful thinking than actually delivered. So my advice is to "prove how you deliver nimbleness" in some consistent fashion.

2. Fast and Cheap--I know. Nobody likes to hear this. And while I think "fast and cheap" isn't the makings of greatness, it IS a reality of what clients are looking for. I think the edge goes to agencies that can deliver fast and cheap(can we say cost effective) but still deliver them as a idea that propels the brand.

3. Get me closer to the customer--clients know that fortunes turn on a companies ability to deliver on an unmet need, want or wish of the customer and only a deep insight can get companies closer to doing so. Agencies would be smart of conduct some research or qualititative studies to unearth insights or motivations a client might not even know about. Insights are the edge and clients love it when their agency are the ones who can help connect clients to them.

4. Help me stay up to date. There's so much to know and so much to keep up on, clients don't always have the time for due diligence to stay up to date. Agency can win some favor if it can serve as a resource to timely and valuable industry information that could make the client look good or make a more informed decision. Knowledge is power. Shared knowledge can be even more powerful for an agency looking for a way in.
5. Play nice with others. Clients now have so many vendors in place that it's important the each one play nice with others and contribute to the greater good of the group in a collaborative and cooperative manner. Territoriality is still a real aspect of relationships, but agencies need to be confident enough in what they do to still step up and be a good partner to others, including the client. It's makes life easier for the client and it makes for a more valuable end product--which makes everyone look good in the end.