Monday, October 1, 2012

The Agency Evaluation

The client-agency relationship is a delicate thing. By definition, your advertising agency should act on your behalf in matters concerning your advertising communication. At the same time, you want them to be responsive to your direction. You want a partnership. After all, you will be judged on the quality of marketing communications developed within the scope of your marketing budget.

Like any relationship, it takes work. As the client, you need your agency to understand your expectations. If the agency is not in sync with your needs it could be time for a friendly divorce. You don't want your agency-client relationship to become disruptive. If you can strengthen the relationship with constructive criticism that could save you the expense and the grief of shopping for a new agency.

Here is a five-point agency evaluation system.  Maybe it will be helpful in evaluating your agency-client relationship.

Creative Excellence: Above all, your agency should be creative and not just in art direction and copy. They should be able to look at your marketing problems creatively. They should consider creative ways to allocate media spending. They should be creative when it comes to spending money and managing limited resources. They should be creative in presenting fresh ideas.

Smart Marketing Thinking: Your agency doesn't have to know as much about your business as you do (Although that can be beneficial). They should think like business people. They should recommend ways that will build your business. They should suggest ideas that are reasonable and strategic.

Problem Solvers: The best agencies will be able to read between the lines a little. If the budget is limited, your agency should be able to deal with that. If selling ideas into the organization or the distribution channels is an issue it might be appropriate for them to help with this process. They should be able to work with you to take anxiety out of your life and not add to it.

Capabilities: The agency relationships you establish should match well with your needs. Evaluate the agency on what it does well. Suggest improvement when you can. Some agencies offer an uneven range of services. If they can't or won't accommodate you, you may need to unbundle some services. Weight this notion against the added time and energy it may take to build an additional agency-client relationship.

Flawless Execution: Careless errors can cripple the effectiveness of any advertising. Nobody's perfect. But the greatest idea in the world will suffer if not produced well. This is a tough place for an agency to fall short but it's all too common. 

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