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January 20, 2010
How Can You Be a Good Client?

For those of you that work “in house” on the corporate side, also known as “the client”, I hope that you will take the following suggestions from David Ogilvy to heart.

Obviously this list is written from the position of the agency. But just imagine how much harder your agency would work for you if you followed these points. What would be the worst thing that would happen? The agency would give you really great strategic branding and marketing initiatives that actually drives sales up? Or, worst case scenario, the agency is wrong and their big strategic idea doesn’t work. Are you any worse off than you were before?

In Confessions of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy advises companies on How To Be A Good Client:

1. Emancipate your agency from fear.

2. Select the right agency in the first place.

3. Brief your agency very thoroughly indeed.

4. Do not compete with your agency in the creative area.

5. Coddle the goose who lays the golden egg. (provide enough time and resources to do the job well.)

6. Don’t strain your advertising through too many layers.

7. Make sure your agency makes a profit.

8. Don’t haggle with your agency.

9. Be candid and encourage candor.

10. Set high standards.

11. Test everything.

12. Hurry. (Profit is a function of time.)

13. Don’t waste time on problem babies (Back your successes and abandon your losses.)

14. Tolerate genius.

15. Don’t under spend. (The surest way to overspend on advertising is not to spend enough to do the job properly.)

What is holding you back from trusting your agency partner?

Fear? Fear of success? Fear of failure? Fear that it won’t be your idea?

Did you hire the agency that you believed would do a great job? Did you hire an agency that has achieved great results for other clients? Then let them achieve great results for you. The more you micro-manage the process and water down the work the more you are guaranteed to get exactly what you fear most. Don’t make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Instead, support your agency. Work with them as strategic partners. Hire an agency that you trust and let them do the job you hired them for. Mr. Ogilvy knew a thing or two about how advertising should work.

If you don’t trust your agency enough to let them do their job, then get another agency. Right now. And this time pick one that you can believe in.

So what is the flip side? What are the 15 things that agencies should do to be a good partner to you? If you imagined the perfect relationship, what guidelines would the agency follow? Please list them below.

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Jaci Russo is a co-founder and senior partner of The Russo Group, a national branding agency located in Lafayette, LA. She is a brand strategist with experience including strategic planning, consumer insight, brand management, national product launches, and media management for clients in a cross section of industries. She speaks to organizations across the country on the power of branding, changing the conversation, message training, and how to brand through social media.

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