Monday, 5 October 2009

Ten signs that you're the problem

There's an ongoing complaint from the marketing agency world along the lines of 'if clients would only leave agencies alone and give them space, they'd get amazing work.' No doubt sometimes true, but I have a strong suspicion that if all clients did it, then many would end up with the sorts of expensive viral campaigns that are only followed by their agency's employees and a load of those bots on Twitter that try to get you to click on links to porn. Sometimes a tight leash is a good thing.

With that in mind, here's my top ten signs that your client is actually fine and that while your enthusiasm should be applauded, you (or your agency) might really be the problem...

1. You, personally, have got more than two clients who you think are 'not adventurous enough'.

2. You're sure your client should increase their advertising budget, but you have no idea what their profit margin is.

3. The client won't do your idea because you've never tried it before and it's unproven.
Let's face it, they're not risk averse, you just haven't persuaded them that it's a good enough idea. Or worse, they think it is a good idea but they don't trust you not to screw it up.

4. The number of people who actually visit the microsite and follow the brand on Twitter might be small, but it doesn't matter because a mystical thing called 'word of mouth' means the campaign's reach will be huge. If you believe that, step this way - today only I've got a special offer on some amazing magic beans...

5. You've never heard a point of view on your client's marketing from any of their staff who work outside the marketing department.

6. You regularly announce that the world has changed.

7. 'It's all about online' but you can't explain with confidence how a Google Adwords auction works.

8. If you leave London, it's to go abroad. What would you want to go up North for? Everyone there commutes on the Tube and is 25-40 years old too, right?

9. Your client needs to build their brand. Of course they do! So why can't you concisely define what brand means?

10. You can't find at least ten points to back up your argument. Er, damn.


eskimon said...

This is superb Neil. I have stuck it on my wall as a reminder of all the things I need to do to *really* help my clients. Thanks so much for sharing!

As an aside, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the advertising vs sales post. Speak soon!

phil said...

Great list... I particularly like the one about being sure your clients needing an increase in budgets without knowing their profitability. I wonder how many agencies know their clients' profitability.

I recall being part of a planning team that deemed the annual reports that contain the balance sheets, cash flow statements, and other financial information "useless piece of curios" (in spite of me having summarized those in 2pages with my analysis of the possible directions in the future).

Well. We never got the 1st phase of the pitch.

Unknown said...

I like #7 in particular. This is so true!!!

Alex Bicknell @ Tomorrow:AM said...

#2, #5 and #9 cover the most grievous sins.

Don't know the client's business.
Don't know the client.
Don't know the principles.

Remember kids: the customer is always right. If you think he's wrong, that means there's information you don't know, or haven't evaluated properly.

Plan Phoenix

Neil C said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. I really didn't expect this one to generate so much interest!

Appreciate the plug on your blog ekimon & really enjoyed the post.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how many on the agency side are feeling guilty reading this suberb list :)

Guess agencies should prepare a similar list for the clients.

Nathan Bush said...

Nioce post. Especially like the point of not having spoken to anyone outside of marketing. Often an upline or directive department will show you why you have the other 9 problem signs.