Taking redneck comedian Jeff Foxworthy's approach, here are some examples of tech company behavior that drives PR and other professional marketing service pros crazy. See if your company is guilty of any of these behavior breaches that get clients fired.
You might not be a good agency client if:
You treat you agency team as outsiders and unworthy of knowing about the warts and bad news. Effective marketing communications people can handle the ugly. They've seen it before and just may be able to help you deal with some problems. Not telling your agency about problems or approaching disasters you're aware of is dumb.
Similarly, if you treat you agency team as go-fers and only give them tactical actions to execute while keeping a marketing or communications strategy a secret, if there is one. Most veteran agency pros have developed effective communications strategies for literally dozens of companies. They're developing campaigns several times a month. How many places have you worked? Tap your agency for this kind of help. Collaborate! It can be some of the highest value you'll receive from your agency. Without a clear competitive strategy nailing your differentiation, companies are burning time and money. Get and use expert help.
You're slow-paying and allow your finance department to pull a cash conservation trip on your agency. This is the fastest way of demotivating people who are attempting to help you win the marketing war, period. If the agreement is 15, 30, 60 days, or whatever, stick with it. Agencies are generally small businesses and live and die on cash flow. Your company wouldn't hold up bills from your legal counsel. Don't do it to your marketing communication team that's fighting for you either.
My favorite response to slow-paying clients is, "How many times did you have to ask/wait for your paycheck?" From the agency perspective, it's great when you're on a first-name basis with and have the phone number of the person in accounts payable who handles marketing budgets. Busy marketing managers can forget little stuff like signing off on agency bills. Knowing Bob or Kathy in finance can really help when your bill somehow gets rat-holed. Having the marketing manager, director, VP, or CEO advise Bob or Kathy to expedite agency payments can also be very helpful.
Ford speaks the truth. Mutual respect is the foundation of all good relationships and marriages -- and lack of respect is the hallmark of bad ones.And your marketing agency is your marriage partner whether you realize it or not.
If you want your marketing agency to always give you their very best work and always go the extra ten miles for you, you need to LET THEM KNOW how much you value and respect them. And you need to PROVE IT in all the ways you treat them.
@ Mark - Thanks for seconding my ideas. The ideal situation is when the agency/client team forgets about what it says on their business cards and just works the problem together. That's the scenario where I've experienced maximum success.
Having a client contact that feels threatened by the agency people is perhaps the worst and wierdest. Then all kinds of crazy stuff happens, such as having the internal person take agency plans and recommendations to their management claiming they developed them without agency help.
Great post and absolutely so true. Why do companies hire a professional consultant if the company is unwilling to listen or if the marcom team is afraid of being eclipsed? I have found that the more compentent and experienced the internal marcom team, the more willing they are to listen and value their PR agency's advice.
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