The Client Need-Scape = What Ad Agency Clients Want
There is no single type of client. But, most clients want a similar array of attributes and deliverables from their ad agency. From an agency business development perspective, clearly enunciating that you understand the client need-scape, the what ad agency clients want from you, is critical in the early stages of your marketing.
So, What Do Ad Agency Clients Want?
I believe that although clients range from “I want to be cool and plugged into the culture” to “I need measurable incremental eCommerce sales”, they all have at least these three core needs. These are the needs that you must address in your outbound and inbound ad agency business development program.
Here’s my list. Your mileage may vary. But, I bet that you have to hit all or some of these points sooner or later.
The Need For Results – Think ROI
Many ad agencies lead with the ‘we are creative’ story. As an ex-agency owner and client, I fully understand this lead point. This is, without question, a key requirement for virtually any client that is trying to get there marketing noticed and break out of their competitive pack.
However, just saying that your ad agency is creative is simply not going to cut it. After all, being creative is a highly subjective point (like, how do you prove this to a wide range of clients – yes, awards do help) and even worse, being perceived as creative can be fleeting. Yesterday’s creative agency is quickly replaced by today’s. This happens every year. Remember when Crispin Porter + Bogusky was the hot shop?
Having a results-oriented – think ROI – positioning or just a serious and clear agency brand statement about meeting this need is a must have in 2018. Marketing is a tough game.
CMO’s come and go based on their sales success.
Procurement departments want measurable returns for less.
CEO’s want increased shareholder value and to make their performance bonus.
Owners want more cash in their pocket.
Therefore, address these results-oriented needs and pain points. At issue, is understanding your target market’s or brand’s definition of positive results in your marketing will be a bit tricky. Tricky? Yes, because the definition of results will vary by client type.
Some clients just need more qualified leads. Think B2B.
Some need measurable sales. Think eCommerce.
Some just need more targeted digital traffic. Think the travel category.
Some want engagement. Think fashion brands.
Some want to improve their image. Nike anyone?
Regardless of the type of results – clients want to hear you talk about how you know that they know that you will deliver a high return on investment. Need an example of a digital agency that gets it? Visit HawkSEM and see how they immediately message ROI. Of course, they are a type of agency that can put ROI right in your face. But, you get the idea.
Last point. Ad agency leaders worry about inroads by marketing consultancies. They should. Why? Well, one point. These guys fully understand what the ad agency client’s want… Here is a direct quote from McKinsey’s About Us page.
We help our clients make significant and lasting improvements to their performance and realize their most important goals. With nearly a century of experience, we’ve built a firm uniquely equipped to this task.
You Have To Understand The Client’s Business And Industry
Prospective clients want to know that you understand their market, consumers and competitive landscape. They do not have much time for your education.
There are a few ways to communicate business category expertise.
First, and undoubtedly irrefutable, there is the agency that has worked in the client’s specific category. “Hi, you are an airline and we want your business. Guess what? Our agency and staff has worked with American Airlines and Virgin.”
If you do not have this direct experience, maybe you have worked in the wider travel category. “Hi, we haven’t worked with an airline, but, wow, we delivered high ROI and engagement for JW Marriot and Days Inn.”
Maybe you have deep knowledge about the client’s target market. “Hi, we understand the business traveler better than any other agency. We grew sales for American Express’s Platinum card.”
Or, maybe you have world class account planning / strategic expertise that is so dazzling that it unignorable – for any type of client. You know, the pitch where you say, “Well, we haven’t worked with an airline, but that is actually good news because we will not address your goals with a super fresh strategic perspective and unexpected solutions.”
Finally, if you really want to go get that airline, tell the market that you are an airline expert. As in, this is all you do. Be the expert in the category and most ad agency prospects will feel the need to talk with you. Experts win and make more bucks. There are client business category experts (healthcare), demographic experts (Gen X), geographic experts (L.A.), media experts (mobile) and digital experts (influencer).
Client’s Want Media Strategy
I know that you know this.
Put on your client hat. What media could a client use today? Let’s start with TV, radio and print (just to start in the 80’s). Next move to mobile. Then Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn. In-game marketing. Video marketing. Next, AdWords, even BING. Native advertising. Influencer advertising. WOM. PR. Programmatic. Database marketing. SEM. SEO. The next-next: Blockchain and AI.
Yikes. Given this complexity, and a degree of uncertainty, why wouldn’t you consider leading with delivering a message about having kick-ass media strategy as an agency deliverable?
The Bottom Line
As is the case with any form of marketing, you must start with what your target market wants. Your client does not just want creative thinking (although you must deliver good old fashioned stand out creative executions or be strategically creative as a baseline).
That said… In the case of your next client — they want to sell more, make more money and do so at a lower cost with less intellectual pain.
Make sure you deliver this message anyway that suits you.
More Bottom Line
I’d love to hear your perspective. Am I right? Are there other things that clients must hear to get them to call you?