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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Do You Have These 10 Traits That Make You A Good Ad Agency Client?

Bart Cleveland in his Ad Agency Blog has created a nice little list of 10 client traits that allow an ad agency to stretch creatively on the client's behalf.

The ones that caused me to think further were as follows:

  • Trait #3: They realize marketing works over time. They don't advertise because their competition does. And they don't judge effectiveness by an instant ROI.
  • Trait #7: They understand that good thinking takes time and that you don't "crank out" great ads.
  • Trait #8: They know that there is a reason for everything you do in the creation of an ad and thus are careful not to get too many fingerprints on the work.
  • Trait #9: They understand that sometimes a better idea comes along during the process that requires you to make a change.
  • Trait #10: They know sometimes what everyone thought was going to be great, isn't great. We've all done work that didn't live up to our expectation. Great clients know this is a part of the process and don't want to do the run-of-the-mill idea to avoid this pitfall.

On Trait #3 I agree in general. But I do think ROI is important in any creative work. Without ROI how do you know whether what you're doing is working?

Yes, I know that everyone says every exposure builds brand. The only question I have on that is:

What proof do we have that exposure builds brand and makes people buy? Please don't trot out focus group data as proof because I don't believe anyone in those things unless they put their money where their mouth is.

Trait #7 Again absolutely vital. But an agency could use it as an excuse to extend the length of a project. For example an ad that does the job of getting some sales/building brand may take x days, whereas a great ad may take x+20 days. If both ads pull the same sales the client has just lost out the tune of 20 days costs.

Trait #8 I agree with 100%. If you're employing an expert don't try to second guess them. By all means have intelligent questions and be aware of the Emperor's clothes type of ad where a design team gets carried away in the moment. But in the end the agency is employed to create your ad for you.

Trait #9 worries me slightly because it allows the agency to start work on designing an ad and then halfway to change horses for what they think may be a better design approach. That's fine if you're paying on a per project basis but if you're paying by days consumed it's a bit more costly isn't it?

Trait #10 is a good trait in a client. But I would expect a client to demand that I test whether it worked in a sample of media/locations first. Then if it worked to roll it out.

Rolling out a majot media campaign is a huge risk if you haven't tested at all. OK some clients may be impatient. But it's our job to point out the importance of checking whether their advert, our creation, works. Otherwise they could lose lots of cash for no good reason.

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