Q&A With MindEcology: 5 Things To Know About Agency-Client Relationships

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As part of a series of articles we’ll be publishing about the secrets of killer agency-client relationships, MindEcology co-founders Dr. Jed C. Jones and Darren Drewitz recently pulled up a couple of chairs and fielded questions about the insights they’ve gathered in a combined 40 years of experience in the marketing/ad game. Here’s what happened:

Q: Let’s say you’re meeting with a prospective client or a brand new client, and you can only impart one idea during the meeting. What would it be?

A – Darren: “Picking just one is tough, but I would say that: Marketing succeeds when you narrow the focus. Get over your fear of not reaching everybody. Not everyone is sitting around waiting for your product or service. Determine who is the absolute best target. Understand them and their emotional buy buttons and the align your marketing tactics with that audience.”

A: Jed: “Agree about a narrow focus. But remember that “narrow” doesn’t equal tunnel vision. Sometimes businesses get fixated on a random marketing tactic because they read about it, or because someone in their universe said ‘You need to be doing X’. Marketing decisions need to be driven by the needs and makeup of your best customers, not on trends or something your cousin told you to do.”

Q: What advice do you have for a business about to start work with a new agency – or who wants to amp the volume on their current agency-client relationship?

A- Jed: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if doing so reveals that you don’t know much about a particular marketing tactic or discipline. Smart marketing managers and business owners aren’t the ones who know everything – they’re the ones who know how to hire other smart people with specialized knowledge. “

A- Darren: “First step: Figure out what you care about the most. If you want super-fun creative and mostly branding, hire a creative shop. If you want efficient media buying, hire a media shop. If you want strategy, then hire strategic thinkers. Second step: Know that a successful agency-client relationship is a true partnership. Figure it out together.”

Q: What advice do you have for clients who are going through an RFP or hiring process?

A: Jed– “Obviously you have to consider your budget at some point, but remember that “cheaper” rarely equals “better”. Investing in experienced, smart people and marketing services that can pay off for years to come will pay a better ROI in the long run than making agency hire decisions that are solely motivated by cost.”

A – Darren: “My advice is to not go through the RFP process. But if you have to, the most important thing is to actually grade the agency on the scoring system that you put into the RFP itself. RFPs are written by one person and then voted on by a dozen who didn’t bother to read the RFP. It’s a messy process. Don’t get seduced by the pretty pictures and the dog and pony show in the RFP process. If you do, that says more about you than it does the agency.”

Q: What’s an example of a marketing mistake you see frequently?

A – Darren: “There are two that I see every week. One: The company makes the marketing about them and not about the target audience. Stop talking about how great your product or service is and start talking about the benefits to the customer. Remember, nobody cares about your business. They care about what you can do for them. Two: The company tries to be all things to all people. Eliminate these two mistakes and your success will significantly improve.

A- Jed: “What Darren said. Also:Failing to invest the time to get to know your best customer and best prospects. “

Q: Name one standout trait of powerful agency/client relationships.

A-Jed: “I’m going to be a rebel and name two: Honesty and trust. On the agency side, we have to be forthright and candid about speaking up when we’ve made a mistake, if we’re really not the right people for the job, and when we have an opinion about the course our client should take – even when our opinion may not be exactly what the client wants to hear.

For clients, the ability to transfer trust to your agency is essential. If you’re working with an agency like ours – one that functions as a partner or a leader rather than an order taker – you’ll find that you get more out of the relationship when you’re open about all aspects of your business and willing to take a bit of risk, based on the advice of your agency. “

A – Darren: “Partnership. It’s cliché as hell, but it’s true. Our approach is simple. We give you the absolute best recommendation on strategy and campaign integration every time. If it differs from the client’s idea, that’s okay. There’s no room for adversarial attitudes – If we disagree, we will tell you why. At the end of the day, we will execute to the best of our ability to what the client wants, but it’s our responsibility to bring our full-service experience to bear on every decision.”

Related Articles:
“The 3 Types of Advertising Agencies”
“Does Having More Agencies Equal Better Results?”

Want your own Q&A with MindEcology? We’re ready when you are.