Why Educating Buyers Of Marketing Or Creative Services Makes Sense – And Why It May Not

Your clients think you’re a Rockstar. However, calculating how much time and effort to invest into a potential new client relationship involves evaluating how much income is possible offset by the real cost to secure the business. It’s an important decision – one you’ll need to seriously consider.

In the past, marketing, advertising or creative businesses have often pitched their services to a new client (as portrayed in the popular AMC dramatic series “Mad Men” with coverage in industry publication ADWEEK Magazine). Generally speaking, the Agency endeavors to create a series of meetings and capabilities presentations that are designed to wow and impress the new client and hopefully culminate in a contract for the Agency’s services. Corporate marketing departments function in a similar manner whereby client-vendor relationships with other company departments (and the new business courtship) is handled internally.

Regardless of the environment, it’s important to understand that educating the client comes at a real cost. The process can be time-consuming and include a wide variety of hard costs that are often unrecoverable if the sale is not consummated. So it’s vital to recognize when you’re tracking a good sales process or simply binging on the activity.

Many companies request full Agency capabilities presentations and are sincere in hiring an Agency to help them. But for others their real intent is to receive a free education at the Agency’s expense. Examples of this are “hypothetical” marketing problems discussed at meetings (“Tell me how you would solve this type of problem . . .”) Even worse, your Agency is asked to perform some or all of the new client’s work on “spec” (meaning that “If we like your work then we will pay for it.”) These businesses lack the insight to understand what the Agency offers as a value proposition. As a result, there is no potential in developing the critical Win-Win relationship which is necessary for long-term success. Even though it is not easy to turn away business many times it is the correct decision for the Agency to make.

Another lesson I’ve learned over the years involves an inverse proposition – one that relates to the service the Agency provides. The BEST clients will want to hire you and keep their account in order . . . they will seek a long-term Win-Win relationship with you . . . they will allow you to do your best work free and unencumbered. The WORST clients will do just the opposite.

Certainly educating the buyer has a positive impact on the way a product or service is sold. However, educating the mass market is a huge undertaking that few businesses are equipped to handle. On the small screen the 1960s are depicted as the heyday of Advertising (á la “Mad Men”). Agency account executives schmoozed clients with huge ad budgets and the fast lifestyles and the three martini lunches were definitely de rigueur. The world changed.

How we’ve changed is interesting. Meeting the demands of our clients places special requirements on us. We have empowered ourselves with new tools and sensibilities. We fully embrace the Web, Social Media and the latest Mobile technology. It’s a 24/7 global marketplace. But our courtship with new business remains relatively unchanged. We still need to diligently educate the buyer, effectively communicate the value of our work and build profitable relationships with clients who seek success.

Properly educating your clients is one way to achieve Rockstar status. Or something close to it!

Posted in August 2012 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments