An alien perspective on client / agency relationships part 1 of 2

alienLet’s pretend for a second or maybe a bit longer, that we, well I,  met an alien from another planet, well is there any other sort?

And fortunately as coincidence would have it, ‘it’ speaks the same language as us. Phew, that is going to help.

And we decided to ask ‘it’ some questions about our crazy little world of new business and how clients select agencies.  I mean, what else would you ask about, right?

I told the martian thing, “that in our world we have companies that need to market themselves and these companies very often employ other firms who are specialist in marketing to do just that.”

Our little green man nods his head side to side as if being patronised and gives a non verbal cue to get on with it, rolls his shiny black eyes and spins his forefingers.

I continue, “well, over the years the length of time these specialist firm get employed for has dwindled.  In fact it used to be over 7 earth years and now it is 2.5 earth years.  That decrease took 30 earth years.” Source here.

He nods his head up and down and I continue again.

“Simultaneously the guys who has been hiring these agencies called Marketing Directors seems to be employed for less and less time too, some suggest for 18 months or less.”  The alien smiles. Kind of sarcastically. I hate that.  And ‘it’ says, “So?”

I say, “so what has caused that to happen do you think?”

“Well, it seems like the person who is hiring these specialist agencies doesn’t know how to do what once they did know how to do.  So paradoxically over time they have got worse at doing their job when it comes to selecting these specialist firms.” He pauses and makes that I’m thinking face.  “And so what else has happened to the process that would make it worse rather than better?”

I shrug and think you’re the alien with the big brain here.

‘It’ asks – “Have you got a data bank of stories that will give me more information about your earthly ways on these matters.”

I point him to our friends at Brand Republic and he digest it all in a second. Impressive.

“So, what do you think Greeny?” I ask.

“It appears that in a profit based system that dominates much of your earthly ways, business tends toward monopoly.  So business including these specialist firms join together to make larger ones and then sell their services at a cheaper rate still.  The problem is at some stage quality suffers in the world of marketing because these firms are asked by the hiring agents to compete on price. It appears that over the same period what you call procurement has been involved with the process of hiring agencies, is that correct?”

“Yes it is.” I confirm.

“Well it seems to me that Marketing Directors and procurement have made the process worse in many cases by focusing on firstly the price or fees the agency charges. They do this by playing agencies off against each other in what you call a pitch and then expect these agencies to deliver fast immediate results  on limited resources.  Other reasons seem to be that when I analysed all the ads made over the last 30 or so years, standards seem to have declined in terms of ads being entertaining. memorable and creative.”

I frown at Mister 3 fingers.

“The problem  seems to be both agencies and their employers, eer, I mean clients seem to be so frightened about losing their jobs they turn out bland work so they do indeed lose their jobs even faster.  This is not helped by some quangos existing that say what you can and can say in advertisements.”

“On and your current culture is insipidly boring so I won’t be staying long. You won’t get many great creative ideas coming out of a culture that is not stimulating and adventurous.  I mean politically and economically you are as what you would say dull as ditch water, you’re like boiled rice mixed with tofu.” And ‘it’ does an alien giggle-grunt.

He starts again.

“One final thing that is fairly new too is the lack of rationale people employ when it comes to

a) selecting an agency, i.e. they don’t know a good one from a bad one because they lack time to gain market knowledge if they did they would be firing them so often and
b) they don’t spend their budgets in appropriate places instead choosing fun things and trendy thing over practical rational thinking, so the Marketing Director, whose job it is to help sell more product gets poor results.  And I am not sure why?” He scratches his green noggin with a point finger. “You lot seem so weird and irrational to me? Oh and
c) companies seem more interested in marketing and branding over product development. i.e. making better products.  They rather say we are better than actually becoming better.  Now that is strange isn’t it?, then they wonder why it doesn’t work in the long-run.”

I ask Mister know it all, “So what should Marketing Directors and agencies do instead to make the world a better place? What would make relationships last longer again and how could Marketing Directors make fewer mistakes when appointing agencies?

to be continued…..

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