Marken.

YOUR AGENCY...IS IT TIME FOR A CHANGE?

Creativity. It's the almighty brass ring in marketing that

you and your competitive counterparts are constantly reaching for

on the business merry-go-round. If you don't get it with one

agency, you switch horses and try again.

Every year, across the country and throughout the

industry, companies switch horses.

For all of the reasons agency changes are made, people

place creativity as the number one reason...whether or not it is

the real reason for the change is always debatable. But it is an

important factor.

It far outstrips the other reasons for an agency change.

It's far ahead of poor account people...lack of knowledge and

experience in the field...agency apathy...and complacency.

The reasons most companies must come to grip with an agency

change or (in order of most frequently mentioned):

* Lack of creativity

* Poor account people

* Lack of knowledge and experience in the field

* Agency apathy or complacency

* Inadequate client service

* Lack of marketing ability

* Lack of special skills

* Poor billing practices

* Agency size

* Poor detail follow-up

* Personality problems

* Late work

* Agency greed

* Lack of advertising competence

* Disagreement on advertising approach

* Inattention by agency senior management

Regarding creativity, the most frequent comments are:

* The agency couldn’t develop and execute a strong positioning statement for us

* The agency felt "cute" was creative

* The agency couldn't synthesize our unique selling

position (USP)

* The agency thought too small

* The agency couldn't get any life in our advertising

Regarding the competence of the agency's account people,

most changes are made in this area because the key people on the

account are either inexperienced or downright incompetent. The

other most frequent problem is the fact that there are frequent

account and creative changes at the agency. This requires the

client to be constantly training new people.

Just as in a marriage, money is one of the major stumbling

blocks. All to often, management get bills which are late, thus

totally confusing the marketing budget's cash flow. Or, they get

bills that are not detailed regarding what the client is paying

for.

Many times, client management says the agency change was

necessary because the agency was too greedy, and had been

squeezing every dollar possible out of the account. But, that is

also a double-edged sword. From the agency side of the

discussion, agency principals state that they weren't totally

compensated for all of the work being performed.

Too often, corporate management wants all of the best work

from the agency, but isn't willing to pay the tab to receive it.

In short, they don't mind if the agency makes a profit on the

other accounts they handle, but they don't feel a profit should

be made on their account.

After all, isn't the creative satisfaction enough?

No.

It's only good business practice that you make a reasonable

return on investment on all of the business you handle...both

within the company and within the agency.

Lack of special non-advertising skills is another reason

for agency switches. Companies are becoming more sophisticated

in their marketing communications efforts. As a result, they

demand more services from their agency. These include such areas

as publicity, trade show support, direct mail, collateral, and

research.

Agency size is another important factor for making a

change. But it works both ways. Most often, management will

changes agencies because their past agency was too small to

provide the support needed. That means that either the company

didn't encourage the agency to grow and expand, or agency

management wasn't willing to grow as aggressively as the client

required.

On the other hand, many times the client realizes that they

would be better of with a smaller agency, because they are not of

the size that demands attention within the agency, and they get

lost in the shuffle. In these instances, the client finds they are

getting second or third tier support, because their budget just

doesn't warrant major agency attention. However, at a smaller

agency the budget and requirements would be important, and would

receive the attention of senior talent.

While there are, or can be a lot of reasons for making an

agency change, there are even more compelling reasons why the

company and agency should work hard to "make" the relationship

work.

First of all, it is just plain expensive to make a change

in terms of education of new people, becoming accustomed to each

other, and lost time in the program's development and execution.

But if management has done all it possibly can to make the

relationship work, and it just doesn't happen--make the change

swiftly.

The client/agency relationship is a lot like a marriage.

There really can't be any type of live-in relationship. Both

parties have to make a commitment to be on the same team, working

toward the same goals for the company. That means there has to

be adjustments on both sides, until thinking and acting is done

in harmony. Then the relationship is smooth, harmonious,

profitable, and mutually rewarding for all concerned.

But if it doesn't happen, divorce is inevitable. At that

point, sever the bonds that bind quickly and smoothly. Look for

and choose a new partner, and start all over again.

Hopefully, this marriage will be the one that will stick so

you can grow old together.

###

Author:.

G. A. "Andy" Marken President Marken Communications, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Andy has worked in front of and behind the TV camera and radio mike. Unlike most PR people he listens to and understands the consumer’s perspective on the actual use of products. He has written more than 100 articles in the business and trade press. During this time he has also addressed industry issues and technologies not as corporate wishlists but how they can be used by normal people. He has been a marketing an...

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