Are Agency Reviews The New Norm?

Shining the light on agency reviews

It is not only the marketing world that continues to change but the consumer world is also rapidly evolving. So should it be surprising that agency reviews seem to be taking place more frequently?

In the past, we really only expected agency reviews in times when new leadership took over but as new platforms, more data and the way we connect with each other continues to change agencies have to be ready for them at any moment. Brands want to ensure they are reaching their customers, and reaching them in the most thoughtful, compelling and efficient way possible. The only way to know if that is happening is to review your work.

Last year, both McDonalds and Lowes held reviews after long relationships with their agencies (let’s not get into the summer of 2015 that caused nearly $30 billion in agency reviews). This could very well be the agencies new normal where there is no guarantee you have a client for life- history doesn’t count as much as performance does these days. With that said, it’s more important than ever that you are ready to prove what you promised every single campaign. 

Below, are three ways we think you can stay ahead of the dreaded agency review!

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Give Clients What They Want, A La Carte

What do clients really want…

Do they want an agency who can do it all?

Or do they want a more specialized agency who does one thing really well?

Do they want boutique or brand name?

I think they want options. And when they don’t feel like they have them they start looking for them on their own. They want the ability to splurge on campaigns but also go bare bones if that is all it takes to get the message across. And it’s best for everyone if you are the agency who can do both for them.

While it might be more fun to work with the bigger budgets, if you can deliver on the smaller, basic needs then you are almost guaranteed to know when they need something done on a larger scale. However, you need to be honest with yourself and the client. Can you work on both types of projects with the same amount of passion and deliver results? If not your trust will be lost along with the client.

With that being said we also know you can’t be everything.

I know that might be confusing but listen, if your agency specializes in something that is okay too and you don’t have to pretend to be anything else. Like I said clients enjoy being able to choose. If you only handle one part of their marketing needs that is okay because my bet is that you have built partnerships within the agency world with other agencies who deliver great work on the things you don’t do. There is nothing wrong with bringing them along too- just more choices for your client! But these are the choices you can control.

Believe me, this is much better than providing mediocre services or building a practice in a declining sector!

Agencies that chase everything because they fear the client will go somewhere else don’t understand what clients really want. Show the client why you are so good at what you do, it’s because you only focus on that area! That shouldn’t scare them away, that should make them excited to work with such a specialized team. 

Remember, Not Every Client Wants To Pick You Dry

I am sure most agencies reactions to an agency review is that the client is looking to get the same amount and quality of work done for cheaper. But take a second, don’t be bitter.

There are always going to be those clients who are looking for cheap! I am sure they had the reputation when you when after them in the first place but you ignored it because you wanted a big name client. Now a year later they want a review and are true to their reputation of being disloyal, unfair and only out to get everything as cheap as possible. But like I said, you knew that going in and ignored it. Most of your clients are not like this.

I do however think that marketers want transparency. Especially when it comes to spending, overhead and budgets. They need to understand why that money needs to be spent. And it’s not so they can price compare but it’s because they have to explain this to someone else.

Many C-Level Executives have never worked in marketing and don’t understand agencies so they certainly aren’t going to understand why they need to pay for one. However, if your agency can provide transparency around the budget and deliver results you won’t be questioned. ROI and data aren’t big buzz words for no reason in the marketing world, marketers have been feeling the heat to show how the money the spent created X amount of returns. Executives want to know where their money is going!

Marketers understand agencies can make magic happen and are willing to pay for that kind of service but they want to know up front and to be kept in the loop along the way.

Stay Ahead Of The Trends

I believe clients really want agencies who are staying ahead of the curve. Whether that is exploring new social platforms, the use of new technology or shifting their spend from traditional to digital. They are looking at you for guidance. And that isn’t just on the innovation said but also the tactical and strategic side of marketing too.

You need to be the first to know if their audience has now cut the cord and only watches subscription TV, if they are using Snapchat or Instagram and be ahead of consumer media and buying trends. I know it’s a tough task sometimes when things like Pokemon Go suddenly take over and your client wants to know why you didn’t think of that first.

And yes it can be frustrating when you suggest new ideas and they don’t want to try it because they have not seen it before. But it’s best to keep putting that stuff in front of them so when their competition does you can remind them you had plans for that too and it’s not too late to execute it now.

One of your jobs as the agency is to show where your client needs to spend money in order to reach their audience and If you don’t appear to be measuring up to the task, changes will be made.

What You Can Expect

This newer type of client-agency relationship is going to be built with these 4 things:

  • Flexibility – To choose how much money they want to spend on each campaign. 
  • Easy Integration- Across marketing platforms, channels and even departments within the company. 
  • Transparency-  When it comes to cost and results.
  • Earned Profit- Your agency profiting is no longer guaranteed, you have to deliver results and you will be reward greatly. 

Wrap It Up

What do you think, could executing the three things above really keep your agency out of a review?

I do! Think about it, if you are able to be transparent about your ability, budget and stay ahead of trends what more could a client want?

What else have you seen change with client’s expectations since agency reviews have become more frequent?

Did you find the content above helpful? Then download our FREE e-book, How To Escape Your Agency’s Reporting Nightmare, here

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