A 10 step guide to surviving the break-up (with your client)
Loeries 2009: Apocalypse Now? As you party at the end ofthe world here is a guide on waving former clients goodbye (hint: no middle finger involved).
In advertising it is inevitable that agencies will win and lose clients. Not everyone takes it equally well. There seems to be a genuine disconnect in how clients and agencies respectively react to the breaking up of their work relationships. For the agency it is often bruising. Egos are upset. The spin begins – “We are divorcing our client” is how one industry executive spun the recent loss of an account his agency held over several decades. Word circles town of how heavy-handed/anti-creative/abusive the client actually is. Anonymous forums like that of BizCommunity offers ample opportunity for packing some punches. On client side there is a polite shrug and vague press release thanking past contributions…We asked some industry veterans from the agency world for their best tips to breaking up etiquette.
* Do not enter into a ‘divorce mentality’. It’s only business.
* It needs to be fair, direct and quick for both parties.
* Be open and honest about the issues that have caused the break up – both agency and Client will learn a lot from it.
* The balance of intellectual depth and strategy rests with the client these days. Changing agencies is really not as cumbersome as it was years ago when the intellectual depth lay with the agency. This shows how the power has shifted in the past 30 years. It’s sad but true.
* Remember that at some future stage that account could be back in the circuit and you might be sexier and more competent than before.
* This is a very small industry and not only do people talk, but they move into new roles that could land them in the potential new client’s head of marketing position that could influence the pitch you’re working on.
* Always have a reason to stay in touch.
* Secret pitches, when the incumbent agency is not even aware that their client is out looking for alternatives, isn’t cool. Clients get a bad name – and so does the replacement agency.
* Ensure that mutual respect is maintained.
* And post break-up no bad mouthing….
– With thanks to Fraser Lamb, Group CEO of Y&R SA; Alistair King, Group Chief Creative at King James Group; Claire Cobbledick, Deputy Managing Director at The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town; Danni Vos, Chief Executive Officer at Hello World Agency; Charl Nel, Marketing & Corporate Affairs at Capitec Bank