Marketing 101: Time to overcome the fear of commitment
by Odette van der Haar (@odette_roper) In this day and age of easy-come easy-go, there seems to be a ubiquitous fear of commitment. Even when signing on the dotted line or closing a deal with a firm handshake, an exit strategy is already being formulated at the back of the mind. Just in case. But in case of what?
Business is a lot like marriage — especially the business between advertising and communications agencies and clients. If looked at simplistically, the same parameters apply: compatibility, chemistry and communication, which set the foundation for the creation and implementation of great work. After that, sometimes, it’s champagne and flowers (everything goes smoothly and expectations are met and exceeded); other times, it’s the war of the roses (things go awry, for whatever reason).
So, due to the nature of relationships, clients may fear getting into bed with agencies. This becomes a barrier to long-term contracts and, in the long run, may be problematic. Why should a client get rid of its agency partner because of one thing that didn’t quite meet expectations? You don’t just divorce someone because you’ve had a bit of a wobbly.
How the magic happens
You must consider that it is through prodigious, long-term relationships that the magic happens. Magic that goes beyond the initial fireworks, giddiness and sleepless nights. The kind of magic that results from clients and agencies finding their groove, communicating and growing a brand that not only becomes legendary but part of the lifeblood of a nation and a culture.
What it boils down to is this: clients and agencies need to make the relationship work to save everyone a lot of heartache and remorse. Ask yourself: why walk away from something in which you’ve invested time, emotion, intellect and creativity, when all it takes are a few checks and balances to find a solution, put things right and continue?
Measuring for benefit
Relationships are measurable and there are times when you need to measure your performance for the benefit of your relationship. With this in mind, the ACA has recently licensed a relationship audit and management tool that assists businesses (both clients and agencies) to measure campaigns and performance — in real time.
With the tool, called Relationship Radar, there is no need for procrastination; if there is a problem, it can be addressed immediately and nipped in the bud. It provides senior management with access to a quick and regular scan on the health of its client/supplier relationships, resulting in numerous benefits:
- It encourages good corporate governance
- It conveys to stakeholders the dimensions of the marketing relationship
- It highlights opportunities to weigh up client/agency marketing skills
- It reflects that the relationship is taken seriously, and
- It provides an opportunity to demonstrate ROI
These are all principles that the ACA instills among its members.
It’s time to discard the fear of commitment and, with the right tools, optimise your client-agency relationship to continue to generate work that is relevant, creative and results-orientated. In the current business environment, this is not only critical but may give you the competitive edge you’re after.
Odette van der Haar (née Roper) is the CEO of the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA), the recognised industry body of the advertising and communications profession in South Africa. Odette (@odette_roper) contributes the regular “Marketing 101” column to Marklives.com.