Chemistry is Key to Client/Agency Success

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When selecting an agency to partner with, I always counsel those doing the search to begin with “chemistry.” The two most important factors in client/agency relationships, in my opinion, are trust and respect. These two factors dictate how well the people involved get along – what their chemistry is likely to be. While creativity, price, and service always factor into the equation, what was always most important to me when I was a “client” was being comfortable that my agency contact was able and willing to tell me what I needed to hear, even if it wasn’t always what I wanted to hear.

 

In my estimation, every creative agency offers “arms and legs.” What sets the best agencies apart from the rest is the strength of conviction that allows them to speak up and share their point of view or perspective on important topics time after time after time. This is really what smart clients are paying for.

 

No one has all the answers. Therefore, smart clients look forward to hearing a variety of opinions and viewpoints. This is critical to making the most informed decisions.

 

Surprisingly, from time to time I run into corporate marketers and managers who don’t welcome objectivity. These are people who don’t value their agency’s background or base of experience. They know what they want to do and be damned with what anyone else may think or say. More often than not, these are the people who fail. They fail as leaders, administrators, and team members. They are not good marketers. They are not good team leaders.

 

Agencies also fail, in my estimation, when they don’t have the strength of commitment to stand up for what they know is right. They have no guts. They are more concerned about making money than providing the one key service their clients need most … an honest point of view.

 

Honesty isn’t always an easy pill to deliver – especially by agencies that live hand to mouth; nor is it easy for the client whose business may be tanking to accept. That said, it is the only thing that really matters for both. I continue to be amazed by the people in business today who just don’t get it! They are often the same people who don’t think chemistry matters.

 

─ Bill

The Cost of Author Alterations

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A few days ago, I shared my thoughts on why I believe companies would be wise to treat their suppliers as business partners and not enemies. As I was wrapping up that blog, another one popped into my head that carries the question of the company/supplier relationship to the next level. From time to time, we find ourselves at DeeterUSA caught between clients and suppliers on the issue of author alterations. This issue is not one we struggle with on a personal level since we are selling our time for creative services and have some flexibility about what we do and don’t charge for. With out-of-pockets, however,  it is a different story and we often find ourselves as mediators settling disputes over how many edits, adjustments, or changes in a project are whose responsibility and ultimately, who needs to pay.

My rule of thumb is that every creative project is going to require one or two rounds of edits and those edits need to be factored into the supplier’s cost estimate. That said, I believe that any client who has more than the agreed-to rounds of edits needs to step up and pay for what I would consider their lack of organization and production savvy.

I am not taking sides on this issue except to say that we all share the responsibility of author alterations and that to avoid hard feelings, it is best to get who is responsible for what ironed out in the project proposal stage and not when the final bill comes in for payment.  I have found that is the best way to manage the client who is “just too busy” to pay attention and that supplier who is always the lowest bidder because he or she is constantly adding on to their bill those things their competition has planned for and included in their estimate from the beginning. Is that bait and switch? Not really! Just poor estimating and even poorer project management.

−        Bill