In this guest post, the marketing and news business manager of Landor, Ashling Withers (pictured below), pens an insightful (and hilarious) piece on agency “dating” and how you can find your perfect match. The ideal read in honour of Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is here again. A time for couples to splash out on price-inflated dinners and chocolate love hearts, and singles to attend speed dating nights at The Establishment. Not one to miss an inappropriate analogy, I started thinking how eerily similar finding the perfect agency/client relationship is to dating.
I couldn’t tell you how many creative agencies there are in Australia but it is a broad, diverse and often downright daunting mix. From niche to full service; each with range of services, specialisms and experience. Finding your perfect match is like navigating the current online minefield of Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Oasis…the list is endless.
Whilst many say finding the right agency – or the right person – is a numbers game, there are some simple rules to make sure neither side is wasting their time.
- Chemistry – just like dating, meeting agencies online is a gamble. How can you be sure the flashy visuals and carefully crafted lines really reflect the current work and team? Long-term relationships are only going to work if there is genuine chemistry.Shortlist those that you do like the look of and go meet them face-to-face for a coffee (first date alcohol is never recommended). And how many times have you been on a date and struggled to get a word in edgeways? First dates aren’t a sales pitch, and neither should the first meeting be.Agencies – less talking about what you have achieved, and more genuine interest in the client and their challenge. Put that PowerPoint away. Let’s face it folks would you want to go on a first date where your potential partner hears – ad nauseum – about all your previous conquests!
- Equality – the archaic tradition of men paying for everything should (in my opinion) be dead. Women are more than able to pay their own way and maintain an equal footing. The same should be true for the first steps in the agency/client relationship.Free creative pitches? Agencies burn hours, money and often, people, in delivering their expertise for free. Without the chance to develop insights and understanding of the brand and the challenge, a client won’t be getting the best response and it can start off the relationship on the wrong foot. Both agency and client need to value each other’s expertise and consider each other equals from the getgo.
- Values – it’s good to have different perspectives and approaches, however, a successful partnership is never going to go well if I care about commitment and you are a free-wheeling open relationship kind of guy. As with relationships, we both want to be striving for the same things. In the agency/client world that could very well be fame, fortune or even changing the world. We all want to date, or work with people that are striving for similar ambitions. So, take time to understand what drives your client, and your agency, before you make the big commitment.
- Respect – everyone has less time, more pressure and, left unchecked, relationships can drift into a transactional phase where neither party feel valued. So, raise the bar by making your partner feel the love. How many times do you feel you interact with someone, yet walk away wondering if they were genuinely interested in you.The old adage ‘You have two ears and one mouth, use them in direct proportion’ is as just as relevant today as it’s always been. Also, if your date doesn’t go to plan and there’s no spark, call it as it is and quickly move on. To be clear, ‘ghosting’ is never okay.
- Transparency – Clients and agencies have multiple pressures and objectives. And in this environment, no one wants to see their time and energy wasted. Too much time is spent on clients who are only window shopping. And no client wants to go through a briefing process with an agency that will not be able to meet their budget, timing or processes. Let’s be transparent. It saves a lot of time for everyone in the long term.