Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants

Do Clients Get The Agencies They Deserve?

client/agency relationship

This post is by Stephan Argent, President of Agency Search and Media Management Consultancy Le Riche Argent and a member of the Marketing FIRST Forum, the global consulting collective co-founded by TrinityP3

You’ve likely heard David Ogilvy’s famous words, ‘clients get the advertising they deserve’ but when it comes to their agencies… do clients get the agencies they deserve?

Over the last seven years or so, we’ve done enough marketer problem resolution work and agency searches to be able to answer that question with some conviction.

The answer is unequivocally, yes.

Invariably, agency relationship challenges can be traced back to their marketing masters and are a reflection of how the agency is being managed. But if you’re reading this with some scepticism and thinking, wait a minute, this is like saying dogs look their owners – consider these behavioural attributes:


How responsive is your agency? Slow to answer emails or phone calls? How long does it take to get requests turned around and dealt with? Flip the question around and ask yourself how responsive you are to your agency’s requests. Do you answer same day, same week? When you find time? While responsiveness may not have started out that way, chances are it’s moving towards the speed with which you’re communicating with them.

Behaviour and respect

Hold on a second – you’re the client here, right? Yes. But if you’ve ever taught your kids ‘treat others as you’d like them to treat you…’ you can see how treating your agency well may reflect on how they’re responding to your cues.


Agency not creative enough? What are your briefing processes and documents like, and how many concepts have you squashed before giving them a fair chance? Creativity can only come alive when it’s nurtured and if you don’t dedicate time, provide encouragement or thoughtful feedback, it won’t flourish.


If your agency isn’t enthusiastic about your business chances are it’s you – not your business that’s the problem. If agencies can get enthusiastic and creative about toilet bowl cleaner (sorry to single you out if that’s one of your products, but you get the idea) they’re likely going to get enthusiastic about whatever you’re selling. Enthusiasm is contagious. And if you’re enthusiastic when you meet your agency, they’ll likely be as enthusiastic about you and your business.

Repeating mistakes

Most services industries make a concerted effort not to make the same mistake twice. It happens, yes – but with timely and constructive feedback the issue isn’t often repeated. So how often do you sit down with your agency and provide calm, constructive feedback (and encouragement, for that matter)?

Fair value

The ‘agency’s’ too expensive’ or we’ve got ‘too many junior resources on our business,’ or the ‘agency’s always asking for more money’ are very often hallmarks of marketers not paying fair value for the services being provided. It’s not always the money that’s at issue – it’s number of revisions, number of meetings or perhaps complex approval processes that are driving costs up or senior resources down.

Supplier or partner

Suppliers generally supply widgets – not brains and creativity. If you refer to your agency as a supplier, chances are they’ll act like one. Call them and treat them as a real ‘partner’ in your business and the results might surprise you.

As I wrap this up, indulge me once more as I go back to dogs for a minute: Ever seen an unhappy dog in a happy household?  Or a happy dog in an unhappy household?

No, neither have we.


This post was originally published by Le Riche Argent.

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    Stephan Argent is a former agency planner from England, and has held senior roles in agencies in both Canada and the United States. Most recently he was Vice President of Digital Media at CTV, and is now President of Canada’s leading independent Marketing and Agency Search advisory and consultancy: ListenMore

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