WARNING: Keep the partner!
By Lien Nguyen – S3311413
A lot of agencies are built. A lot of competitors are out there.
Communication industry today is the battlefield.
It is not hard to find an agency but it is hard to attract the client. Agencies need to keep in mind that there are now a lot of available options for a client to choose. Opportunity is made by yourselves. It is essential for an agency to know how to survive in this competitive market. Big question is made: ‘How to become client’s partner?’
I did have a conversation with Ms.Khanh Lam in order to find out the answer. Lam is now an Assistant Brand Manager in Marketing Department of LG Vina Cosmetic Company. We started a small talk while tasted cup of coffee. She likes to drink coffee since it keep her awake. Lam was really interested in the topic since she had many things to say as a client. “To be honest, I actually want to warmly make some small complain”, said Lam. I began the interview with a straight question.
Way to approach agency?
“We are now living in the world that almost things begin with ‘CAN’”, she had a big smile and told me that there are many ways to get an agency and it is not that complicated. Different companies will have different ways to find an agency but Lam believed that most of them will usually seek for recommendation from others. Companies will tend to find out whether that agency has good comments, good reputation within the market or not based on networking with other companies. “Because we need a security”, that is the only reason she said when I asked why networking is necessary. There will be sometimes that company will approach agency via websites or email at first but still, they will listen to the public in order to make sure that they have a right decision. In general, companies seek for an agency with a pure background. Lam noted that somehow a company just pick an agency to work as their partner due to good recommendation from others. That is a reason why she told me to make our conversation now turn out to become a more practical topic: “How to keep being a partner with client?”
Lam spent a minute to think and calmly told me 3 basic characteristics that she always wants from an agency as her potential business partner, which are enthusiasm, responsibility and integrity. “Working is tough. I do not want to have a partner who will bring me troubles. It will be good if we can have fun and trust each other while we work together”, Lam shared. Agencies need to be aware that they will meet the clients for a long time. It is important to show that you are working with all the effort and willing to support your clients when they need. As Hall (2006) stated, clients want someone can give them energy and help them sleep better.
Creative plus strategic
When being asked about the most important factors, Lam just immediately spoke out within seconds: “Creativity”. Followed her explanation, every agency whether Public Relations or Advertising all must have a needed standard of creativity. It is agency’s job to show client a creative idea which can help them not only develop but also create some different value. “We have to deal with creative stuff all the time”, said Lam. This is no doubt why standard of creativity got the 1st position in the top of reasons that cause client’s dissatisfaction (Doyle, Jens & Michell 1980). However, Lam also expressed that the more important thing clients always want is all about sale. Therefore, it is not enough if there is only creative but not ideal to deal with sale development. ‘We want something can work strategically’, Lam said straightly. Agencies, in order to attract client, they must think as a client first to create a good strategy in order to reach their expectation. Just like Engineering management (2004) mentioned, agencies have to understand clients’ culture, practice and objectives to give them what they ask for.
‘Let us see the calculation!’
It is always needed to remember that clients are sensitive about their pocket. Billing therefore is always a touchy and challenging subject (King 2011). What clients want from any project as well as agency is the return of investment (ROI). ROI is an essential and important factor especially in today’s economic environment (Marlin 2008). Therefore, agency should be highly proficiency in calculating and measuring not only the budget but also the achievement from that. ‘Show me a reasonable number’, Lam stressed. She explained that the budget does not always have to be pay less but pay smart. She wants an agency can show that all the money is spent efficiently in order to get the best result from what the company has paid.
Answer not question
‘It’s really annoying when agency just keep asking me whether it’s right or wrong’, she looked depressed. The reason why client seeks for agency is because they need help. Instead of giving her more stress, Lam expected an agency to give her solutions to solve the problem and achieve things. Although client can be seen as a leader in this kind of business relationship, it is necessary for agencies to raise their voice. Client definitely do not want an agency who go over their permission but an active agency who is willing to give them a healthy debate (MM&M 2011).
As a client, from all things above that both sides have been through, Lam’s final expectation from the whole work is that the agency meet the Key Performance Indicator with the efficiency timeline. “It is not that hard to keep client’s heart if you put effort in” is the conclusion that Lam gave me. She told me that agencies today are improving day by day since they are all aware of the competitiveness increase within the market. “If you do not know how to treat people, you lose”, said Lam. As long as you learn and work hard, you will find the way out. Things is always needed to keep in mind: Agency is there not to watch and judge client’s requirements but meet them and make thing happens.
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Doyle, P, Jens, MC & Michell, P 1980, ‘Signals of Vulnerability in Agency-Client Relations’, Journal of Marketing, vol.44, no.4, pp.18-23.
Engineering Management 2004, ‘How to pick a PR agency’, IEE.org.
Hall, S 2006, ‘Clients/agencies: Try talking to each other’, Precision Marketing, 17 November.
King, S 2011, ‘The day we killed our ad agency’, Applied Arts Magazine.
Marlin, B 2008, ‘Wanted: The ideal agency’, ABA Bank Marketing, June 2008.
MM&M 2011, ‘What clients want’, Medical Marketing and Media.