Advertising Week Europe

Advertising Week Europe 2017 Official Guide

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Clients often come to Debbie Morrison's office complaining about the cost of an agency. But Morrison, Director of Consultancy and Best Practice at ISBA, says the problem often boils down to much more than just money. The financial complaint is frequently a warning sign that the advertiser and agency relationship has broken down. It could be that deliverables aren't up to what the advertiser expects, or that the parties aren't communicating with each other, says Morrison, who man- ages partnerships at ISBA. After all, the pitching process may be expensive, but clients normally aren't so worried about what they're being charged when the relationship with their agency is a healthy one. So how can the two sides keep the pas- sion alive? Morrison has some advice for a happy marriage that satisfies everyone. Quite often, a breakdown in the rela- tionship has to do with clients keeping agencies in the dark. For advertisers to get what they need from their agen- cies, it's imperative that they provide a clear vision of the company's direc- tion. When an organisation's leadership changes, so can its priorities, leaving the agency out of the loop. That can lead to GUIDE THE AGENCY KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN DEVELOP THE HUMAN TOUCH misunderstandings and the client may wonder whether their agency really un- derstands the company's needs. Morrison recommends that advertisers regularly walk their agencies through the big vision, outlining advertising goals and explaining where they fit into the larger plan. In this way, both sides can ask the right questions, understand the objectives and stay on the same page. Perhaps the most important thing that advertisers and agencies can do to have a fruitful working partnership is clear and frequent communication. When agencies begin the pitching process, excitement on both sides runs high, and maintaining that intensity over the long haul hinges on constant communication. That means the agency must know who to contact to sign off on plans, and the client has got to have key agency contacts that aren't changing every two weeks. Once advertisers have a strong partnership, they'll be more open to providing the bigger vision. Not surprisingly, a breakdown in regular communication can mean disaster for a project. A client once told Morrison that they hadn't heard from their account di- rector in three months. "There's always got to be somebody to talk to," she says. A few months after contract signing, each side should conduct a review of the other, giving everyone the chance to air their concerns, Morrison suggests. The advertiser and agency can then come together to fix any kinks, agree on priorities and thrash out how work flow should change. Nothing beats face-to-face meet- ings—advertising is essentially a human business. During the pitching process, clients will sometimes provide companies with experiences—it could be seeing the inside of a brewery, perhaps, or going to the farms where milk for a type of yogurt comes from, as Morrison once experienced. Often, the agency se- lection process can turn on an excursion like that. Once an agency is signed, those types of interaction become more low-key, but for agencies it's really important to keep delving into a client's business. The human touch is crucial to maintaining a strong, trusting partnership. Try getting together with the main contacts on an account for coffee or drinks every month to build a relationship that can last well beyond budgets. AWE 2017 189

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