frank's blog

Smart Clients Become Their Agency’s Best Client – Steve Jobs’ And Phil Knight’s Marketing Secret

Posted in inspiration, Media, quality by aldorf on October 18, 2011

Great post by Avi Dan

To get the most out of their agency, smart clients become their agency’s best client. Steve Jobs understood this. So did Phil Knight from Nike. They understood what matters to agencies and to agency people:

  1. Death by nitpicking. Nothing wears out agencies faster than re-do’s, having to rework the same idea over and over again. I had a simple rule with my agency: we allowed ourselves only 3 strikes.  If, by the third revision, the idea was still not approved, we retired it and moved on to the next idea.
  2. People who can say, “Yes”. Too often the agency has to present ideas to middle managers who are not decision makers, and whose role is often limited to rejecting ideas. Smart clients involve the person who can say “Yes” from the get-go, be it the CMO or even the CEO.
  3. Collaboration. Agencies crave respect – clients that empower them to have a more consultative relationship, rather than a vendor-like arrangement. A key value an agency can bring to the relationship is third-party objectivity, as the client view and the customer view need to be supplemented by an independent agency view in a healthy relationship.
  4. Creative hothouse. Creative showcase accounts, and the chance to win creative awards, attract a disproportionate share of the agency’s, and the industry, best talent. A great client has uncompromising standards of creativity and an almost religious belief in a great brief.
  5. Evaluations. Great clients are objective and encourage two-way communication. They implement a 360-degrees evaluation process, where client and agency have equal input. For great clients, the evaluation process is a dialogue, not a report card. It is designed to inspire mastery, beyond just capturing functioning capability.
  6. Compensation. Smart clients encourage agencies to become their business partners and be measured by business results, aligning compensation with outcomes, and giving them an opportunity for maximizing their upside.

It is up to the CMO and his or her marketing team to create an atmosphere of excellence on their business, and an inspired culture of achievement. An great client, one with the passion to become an agency’s best client, will attracts a disproportionate amount of agency talent that will give it a strategic competitive edge.

Follow Avi on Twitter.

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