My Agency

I was in a meeting today (I won’t drop any names, but they were certainly worthy of dropping) and I was asked, “If you started an agency today, what would it look like?”

I threw out some generic ideas and buzz words, and of course it wasn’t until I was on my way home that an idea hit me.

There is a fundamental problem with the agency/client relationship. Agencies are constantly forced to compromise on pieces of communication for client approval. It makes economic sense because without happy clients there’s no one to pay for the expensive furniture in the office. But, it does mean the communication is not at its most effective. It seems to me, the two parties in this relationship have almost opposing objectives. These differences are usually overcome by settling somewhere in the middle. An area of compromise.

So if I started an agency today, perhaps its motto would be “No Compromise”. At all. If the client wasn’t 100% happy with the work, then we wouldn’t work with them. It’s either take it, or leave it.

Financially, it’s never going to happen. But it does ensure only the best work is ever done.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t overcome the fact this is an industry where success is determined and therefore influenced by awards. But maybe it’s the start of a conversation worth having.

No Comments
  • Russel
    Posted at November 14, 2009 8:31am, 14 November Reply

    Just what the industry needs – some generic ideas and buzz words.

  • adam.jaffrey
    Posted at November 14, 2009 11:16am, 14 November Reply

    Indeed Zac, but isn't every industry limited by what we know as "budgets"?

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at November 14, 2009 1:04pm, 14 November Reply

    @ Adam

    There's a complete new idea somewhere in that.

    The client does not come to the agency with a budget. Instead, the agency creates the campaign and then determines its budget.

    Again it's riddled with problems, but how much money is unnecessarily overspent or how many ideas are killed because there isn't enough money behind it?

  • Benn
    Posted at November 14, 2009 4:35pm, 14 November Reply

    Agencies aren't forced to do anything. Weak minded individuals and those with poor relationships are forced.

    If you have an honest, open and strong relationship between client and agency then there's no forcing, it becomes a truly collaborative effort.

    The only time there may be compromise is when there are timing and budget issues. However, you shouldn't be presenting something back that doesn't meet the brief. Challenging the brief is one thing, but presenting a $1m campaign execution when you've only got $200k for all components is a little silly.

  • lauren
    Posted at November 15, 2009 12:40pm, 15 November Reply

    so did you call your meeting peeps back and tell them your idea? were they 100% happy with it?

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at November 15, 2009 12:47pm, 15 November Reply

    @ lauren

    Oh no, it was just a chat shooting some ideas. =P

  • marek
    Posted at November 15, 2009 4:50pm, 15 November Reply

    I agree with Benn 100%.
    In addition I would say one thing.
    Where you say Zac "opposing objectives" – that is not quite right.

    If you really really get their business, including the constraints they have imposed on them and thus on the agency, then you'll find a way to make a brilliant piece of work.

  • Daniel Oyston
    Posted at November 20, 2009 8:22am, 20 November Reply

    Or you could just ensure you have enough work in your pipeline so that if you are both not 100% then there will be other work to pick up.

    Also, I think the “no compromises” stand can be softened if you ensure a proper buying vision is created at the start.

    I agree with Benn … there are a lot of weak minded individuals who will compromise because they don’t want to have uncomfortable conversations.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at December 8, 2009 2:27pm, 08 December Reply

    I've worked in agencies for over ten years and clients usually always, at least roughly, have a budget coming in… the agency doesn't determine it.

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