The inaugural article in his new series from the client side contains his personal perspectives and insights on advice to share with agencies. Here is a brief summary of his key points:
- Loyalty matters. It matters to Rod as he believes that there are advantages and opportunities that come from leveraging the experience and knowledge gained from long-term relationships with partners who understand the brand and its business. He also believes it should matter to agencies, suggesting that agencies should tout their long-term relationships as a reference in new business pitches. But he also reminds us that loyalty is a two-way street, and questions agencies that resign one account to take on a larger one in the same category.
- Commit to the journey. Rod admires agencies that know where the client is going, understand what it takes to get there, and work with the client to pull in the same direction. His advice here is to be proactive - don't wait for specific directions from the client. Be observant, engaged and stay in motion with your client.
- The brand is everything. This is a great tip from Rod. Focus all of your new business effort on understanding the brand. Do your homework - shop their stores, use their products, call their service centers, talk with employees. It shouldn't surprise you to know that clients don't care as much about you as you would like for them to, so don't focus on you in new business, focus on what they really care about - their brand. (SIDE NOTE: One of the best new business pitches I ever made was when we mystery shopped 100 stores that carried the client prospect's products, completed a short survey on each visit, and used a board with 100 business cards from the store salesman as the first chart in our new business pitch. The prospect was impressed with the effort, anxious to know what we had learned, and, most importantly, awarded us a $20 million business that day).
- It is not your money. Of course, it's not. But do agencies treat the client's money the same way they treat their own? Rod doesn't think so, and I'm sure he's not alone in thinking this. He also chastises agencies who "nickel and dime" their clients with petty charges like mark-up on copies, supplies used, and phone calls.
- There's no such thing as full-service. As Rod says, like it or not, fragmentation and specialization is a reality, and while it may be more difficult to manage multiple partners, he is convinced he gets better work from someone who is truly skilled in a particular aspect of marketing. His advice - take down the "we do it all banner above the door", and focus on your core competencies.