The marketing services and client arena has changed dramatically over the last decade. Both clients and agency partners are focused intently on implementing cost efficiencies. Agencies are often afraid of advising the client on ways to save money for fear of insulting the client and negatively impacting the relationship. The agency business is fiercely competitive, especially in smaller markets. Most agencies are under pressure to please the client – no matter what. As a result, there is very little conversation regarding what clients might do to help partnering agencies make the client’s dollar stretch.
If you are on the client side and want to know how you can help your agency do great work and be cost-effective, here are a few tips:
Ideas are a wonderful thing. We love big, fat, juicy ideas. However, when new elements are added once the project is well underway, it can unfortunately affect budgets and timing. We call it scope creep – when the project starts to ripple outside of the original, agreed-upon objectives. Usually, a tipoff to impending scope creep is a sentence that may start with: “What if we just…” or “While you’re doing that, maybe you could …”
If you want cost-effective work within the designated timeline, keep the creep out.
Client: “I really need a video. American Gizmo has a video and we need one too.”
Agency: “Why do you need a video? What is the challenge you’re facing?”
A good agency will challenge you. Please don’t be insulted. You don’t want an order taker for an agency you want a strategic partner. We want to make sure whatever we’re helping you with will move the ROI needle forward. Creating something that doesn’t solve your problem not only puts a ding in cost-efficiency, but can damage the proposed budget.
Involving your agency partner early on offers valuable cost-efficiencies. If we don’t understand how all the parts fit together, we can’t recommend solutions that are time-saving or make for a cohesive project. Being at the table with the whole team in the beginning lets us understand all the nuances of the job and gives us the opportunity to offer ideas that might streamline the process.
Agencies are used to doing things on the fly. Occasionally, a client will need something quickly. We get it – it happens. But if it’s a habit, you may not always get the best work. Being rushed doesn’t allow us to really dig deep and come up with the best solution. And, haste sets everyone up for missteps.
We’re happy to discuss your new product launch or how to best update your website. But without clear direction on your objectives and eventual outcomes (hopefully measurable), it’s just a nice chat – that you may get billed for. We have to leave the room with a clear idea of what the issue is – what problem you need solved. It’s our job to go away and come back with solutions. You don’t have to have all the information. We like to research and dig around for data. But we have to have an idea of what we’re solving and what results you are hoping for.