What Price Service When Adland’s Obsessed With Technology?

What Price Service When Adland’s Obsessed With Technology?
SHARE
THIS



In his latest attack (see: opinion piece), B&T regular, Robert Strohfeldt, unleashes on adland’s obsession with technology at the expense of customer service. And, he reminds us, the consultancies are coming and they do service better than anyone…

In a recent “survey”, leading figures in advertising from around the world were asked to state, in 60 seconds, their thoughts on the industry. “Ten top industry quotes in just 60 seconds.”.

A great snapshot of the state of play in mid-2017. I am not sure if the quotes were put into any particular order, though the number 1 quote was:

“Transformation. Advertising doesn’t put technology at the core of our business model”.

That an “industry leader” thinks this way says a lot about what has gone wrong with the advertising business. To add further weight, service was not mentioned at all. (The other 9 quotes showed though that, the basics had not changed).

I am guessing most readers subscribe to variety of publications, newsletters, blogs etc – the amount of reading that one has to do now compared to say, 20 years ago, has increased at least 10 -fold. Marketing Week, E Marketer, Social Media Examiner, B&T (a must), Ad News, Mumbrella (no comment), Google Best Practices. I could name another 10 and still not go close to listing them all. But not once have I read an article on service in the past two years.

We are a “service industry”, a service industry under threat from advisory and management consulting firms as well as clients taking business in-house.

There is an old saying “creative wins business, service loses it”. Nothing has changed. You can replace “creative” with “great ideas”, “great technology” or any other term you think more appropriate, but ultimately the client will judge you on the service behind it.

I recently met with a close mate of some 30 years. His nickname is Seppo, so a number of you will know who I am talking about. He is the best suit I have ever encountered. The Poms produced the best creative people, but no one tops the Yanks when it comes to account service and business strategy. A major offering of his very successful business is working with agencies to improve their account service – he even has clients asking him to work with their agencies. (Or agencies worried they are going to lose a major client and asking advice on what to do.)

Seppo says there are three basic foundations of a client – agency relationship.

  • Like
  • Trust
  • Respect

You cannot work with people you do not like, you don’t trust or you don’t respect, no matter how brilliant they may be. A client does not need new earth shattering ideas every week. The real work is in the implementation, making it happen on time, on budget and with the no grief or hassle.

Many great creative agencies of the 90s had clients going out the back door faster than they could bring them in the front. George Patterson use to be the largest agency in the country, particularly in Sydney. (With Clemenger a close second). Patts was run by the legendary Geoff Cousins, followed by Alex Hamill. Clemenger had the Clemenger brothers in Melbourne and Geoff Wild, current chairman of WPP ANZ, as Sydney founder and chairman.

These guys were businessmen, as well known outside the advertising industry as they were in it. Patts did produce some great creative work, but they were renowned for their service rather than creative work. They held clients for 10, 20, 30 years or more. Today, a client of five years standing is rare. (Another “old mate” said he was told something new by a young marketer – lifetime value of a customer. Of course, he had to draw breath in between the laughs).

We have become obsessed with technology, not as a means to the end, but as the end itself. Asking a marketer or agency professional to answer a question without using the word “digital” is similar to asking a teenager not to use “like” in a sentence. Dam near impossible.

Advertising is a service, not a technology business. Like all other industries, technology has had an enormous impact, but technology is not our core product.

Customer experience has become a stand -alone discipline, it seems every second days a paper or opinion piece is penned on winning the loyalty of “today’s empowered customers”.  If consumers are growing ever smarter, what about clients.? So where is the information on winning the loyalty of “today’s empowered clients”?

The best clients are the ones you already have, yet how often do you hear people within an agency bag their clients? The people who pay their salaries, or more precisely their mortgages, cars, holidays, feed their kids and fund their evenings at funky restaurants and nightspots.

Some much time, effort and money goes into understanding customers’ needs and expectations, but bugger all into the same motivations of clients. They are customers as well. And before you can start giving advice on what is best for a client’s customers, you should be looking at your own backyard and applying these principals to them.

Sure, some clients can be very demanding. Funny that. A company spends millions of dollars with you and they have the audacity to be demanding. Yet go to a restaurant, spend a few hundred bucks and if the service is lousy, most become irate.

A successful agency starts and ends with great service. The bit in the middle, the ideas/creative/IT are a given. This may sound like heresy, buy ideas are a dime a dozen. It is how you bring the idea to life and successfully manage it from inception to completion that will determine how a client rates you.

There is always the exception. Clients who change agencies almost on an annual basis. If a client begrudges you making a fair profit, then steer clear. If they don’t value service then they don’t value ideas – they think they can “steal” them and do the implementation themselves. But thankfully this type of client is in the minority.

Great service is the “secret” to success in a service business. (Who would have thought that? The bleeding obvious).

Please login with linkedin to comment

Robert Strohfeldt

Latest News

Starts At 60 Makes Two Executive Appointments
  • Media

Starts At 60 Makes Two Executive Appointments

Mature-age media platform Starts at 60 has welcomed two new leaders to its executive team as it looks to scale up and broaden its commercialisation. Amena Reza (pictured above, right) moves into the role of chief operating officer. She was formerly the managing director of ML Design, and is a chartered accountant and a non-executive […]

HubSpot Creates ‘Marketing Hub Starter’ For Small Businesses
  • Marketing
  • Technology

HubSpot Creates ‘Marketing Hub Starter’ For Small Businesses

Marketing software player HubSpot has launched Marketing Hub Starter, a new software offering that aims to give growing teams the tools they need to start marketing right. This new tier of HubSpot’s platform is designed with small businesses in mind, consolidating the capabilities of existing disparate marketing tools into one platform and offering an affordable […]

Market Research Industry Cracks Down On Shonky Behaviour With New Digital Platform
  • Marketing

Market Research Industry Cracks Down On Shonky Behaviour With New Digital Platform

The Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO) has launched a digital platform to highlight fake or illegitimate research activities to the public. ‘Phish of the Day’ enables AMSRO members, as well as the general public, to report any scams or non-genuine market and social research activities to the association. These might include telemarketing […]

Pooled Energy Appoints Magnum & Co And The Wired Agency
  • Advertising
  • Marketing

Pooled Energy Appoints Magnum & Co And The Wired Agency

Swimming pool electricity retailer Pooled Energy has appointed Magnum & Co and sister agency The Wired Agency to its roster, following a competitive pitch. Magnum & Co will handle Pooled Energy’s social media and PR, while The Wired Agency has been appointed to manage the company’s search and display advertising. Both agencies will collaborate with […]

Masculinity Roasted In Clever New Ad
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Masculinity Roasted In Clever New Ad

Think masculinity means drinking a case without chundering? Well, rediscover it (& possibly yourself) with this top ad.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
WPP AUNZ Partners With Career Trackers Indigenous Internship Program
  • Advertising

WPP AUNZ Partners With Career Trackers Indigenous Internship Program

Advertising and marketing network WPP AUNZ has joined the Career Trackers Indigenous Internship Program as part of its commitment to a diverse workforce, and the creation of opportunities that inspire excellence. As part of the program, WPP AUNZ has welcomed its first three interns: Abi-Leigh Dillon (WPP AUNZ), Amy Mccutcheon (MediaCom) and Jacinta Evans (Ogilvy), […]

Taboo Goes On A Hiring Spree
  • Advertising

Taboo Goes On A Hiring Spree

Taboo has gone a hiring spree. And when it comes to sprees, that's far better than a shooting one or a farting one.

M&C Saatchi Group’s 1440 Shuts Up Shop
  • Marketing

M&C Saatchi Group’s 1440 Shuts Up Shop

Sadly, M&C Saatchi's 1440 is no more. And chances of it being reborn as 1550 not looking much chop either.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Luke Kelly Becomes A Partner At HBT
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Luke Kelly Becomes A Partner At HBT

B&T's not sure what's with that twirly thing in the press photo, suffice to say a vortex to an alternate dimension?

Women In Media Profile: Alison Michalk
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Alison Michalk

If B&T's Women in Media profiles were an animal they would be a gazelle or lioness, or even a lioness eating a gazelle.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Grant Broadcasters Makes Several Changes To Senior Executive Team
  • Media

Grant Broadcasters Makes Several Changes To Senior Executive Team

Independent media company Grant Broadcasters has announced a number of changes to its executive ranks. Grant Cameron will move up to become non-executive chairman for the company, and Alison Cameron (pictured above) – currently the chief operating officer – will assume the CEO role. Dugald Cameron remains responsible for the family’s investment portfolio and is […]