Opposites Attract: Why Marketers and Agencies Don’t Always Get Along

Posted on June 3, 2015 by Darla F

conflict“The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.”
– Don Draper

They have common goals, so you’d think it would be a match made in heaven, but it doesn’t always turn out that way. Agencies can be fickle and, let’s face it, a little mad – as in angry, not crazy. Marketers, on the other hand, can be unfocused and, let’s face it, a little mad – as in crazy, not angry.

They are opposites that work towards a common goal, which is why they are effective collaborators even if it isn’t always smooth sailing. In the fictional world of Don Draper, the answer was often found at the bottom of the nearest bottle of good scotch. In the real world, however, we have to look for more productive solutions to conflict.

Data Expectations

A survey conducted by RSW/US indicates unmet expectations are one trouble spot, especially regarding the role of metrics in creating effective campaigns. The marketers complained that agencies tend to downplay the importance of data in order to be more creative. The agencies countered with the cost factor. Metrics do not come cheap. Marketers want the numbers, but they don’t want to pay extra to get them.

Solution: Getting a top client is an investment in the agency’s brand, so they may have to give a little on the cost factor, but within reason. Transparency about the cost of research for their projects is one way to defer some of the complaints. It might help to include detailed project management timelines with their proposals complete with budget benchmarks, so the client can see the expenditure in real time.

Conflicting Stories

How many times did Don Draper face this problem? They present a creative and well-thought out pitch and, boom, the marketers change their minds about what they want.

Solution: Fixing this point of conflict is a two step process. It starts with a detailed brief from the marketer to define the purpose of the project. This ensures both sides are on the same page right from the start. Once the brief gets the okay, the agency can provide the marketer with a Statement of Work that defines the process more fully.

The goal is to foster a sense of teamwork between the agency and marketer. Establish clear lines of communication and integration, so everyone knows what is going on during campaign development.

Share, Share, It’s Only Fair

Projects tend to create silos and the disconnect that comes with them, so the marketer is not always given current information.

Solutions: Even if agencies have to segregate the work by design process and channel, this isn’t the 1960s, we have technology that can prevent that disconnect.

File sharing, online chats and even social networking mean the art department is talking to the writer who is communicating effectively with the social media coordinator who shares daily with the project manager. With the help of platforms like Skype, even people in remote locations, say marketers, for example, have a way to get accurate information.

Will marketers and agencies continue to clash? Probably, but finding ways to defuse conflict is one way to stop some of the madness.

Writer Bio: Darla F is a full-time freelance writer who specializes in helping agencies meet their goals by developing creative and engaging content.


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