Four Pitfalls That Crash Agency Relationships - May 15, 2017

If yours is a growing company, chances are that, at some point, you've worked with an outside marketing or advertising agency. While an agency brings the advantage of time, resources and creativity, often these agency relationships are short lived. According to Atlanta search consultancy The Bedford Group, in 1984, the average client-agency relationship tenure was 7.2 years. By 1997, that number fell 25 percent to 5.3 years. Today the average client-agency tenure is thought to be less than three years.

So where do agency relationships go wrong? In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we'll share these four insights from digital media strategist Kelli Hashimoto.

1. The 'yes-man' agency. According to Hashimoto, this is the syndrome in which the agency tries to execute every suggestion provided by you and agency leaders. While it may not seem like a bad thing at first, this can be detrimental to the success of your marketing strategy. Often these ideas are not aligned with an overriding market strategy. These ideas might not be measurable. These ideas might not be targeted and streamlined to achieve your overall goal. Agencies need to understand the big picture and leverage data to guide a complete strategy on behalf of their clients.

2. You are constantly playing a game of telephone with a team of recent college graduates. As often is the case with agencies, when pitching for the business, you meet the agency superstars—usually senior leaders. But once the business is won, these faces disappear and suddenly your account is left in the hands of junior or over-worked mid-level account executives. With these relationships, how do you get the information you need to feed back to your C-suite? Who can give you the real strategy? In an agency situation, you deserve to communicate with the senior leaders.

3. Creative is driving the media strategy. In order to hire an agency, chances are you conducted an agency review and allowed multiple firms to pitch for the business. Often, an agency will push this creative through, whether it's ultimately the right message or not. Agencies that push creative instead of focusing on the right strategy for your business, will fail in the end. And, this strategy needs to be backed by data and insights into your target audiences.

4. Missing out on the latest cutting-edge technology. There are many agencies out there, and at the same time, many marketing platforms, such as Hubspot, Marketo and Eloqua. These platforms provide rewards or reseller programs that agencies can utilize for their clients. This drives loyalty between the agency and the platform. For you, however, this means your company won't get exposed to the latest technology-only to the technology that your agency relies on. If agencies truly worked in their clients' best interests, they would strive to drive the industry forward with the latest technology stack.

Your agency can provide you with a competitive advantage. Make sure you manage the relationship and keep the team focused on the right goals.

Source: Kelli Hashimoto is a digital media strategist at Media Two Interactive. She is responsible for working in the multiple ad operations platforms, but most importantly, she turns the data and the numbers into actionable insight for clients.

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