Three tricks to improve your ad agency's performance AND save $!

Written by John Hoeschele, CD & copywriter

It may be counter intuitive to hear 'money-saving tips' from your ad agency, but the best agencies (aka: the ones who deliver honest council as well as on-target and on-message creative) should have no compunction about helping their CMO clients spend their dollars more prudently. In that spirit, here are three simple but powerful steps you can take to improve your agency's output even as you save money in the process.

  1. Commit your input & objectives to paper -- We understand that you're busy and capacity-constrained. But a few, simple bullets committed to paper -- rather than simply rattling off what you have in mind -- can go a long way toward keeping your agency focused, mitigating mission creep, reducing subjectivity, and keeping everyone, you included, on the same page...both literally and figuratively. That's not to say you can't adjust course en route, as circumstances, budgets, and market conditions can and do change: But if you start with a handful of well-reasoned and well-defined goals, key messages, target audiences, and other important data points -- everyone on the agency side, from your account rep to your creative team, will be better -- and work more efficiently -- for it.
  2. Consolidate & clarify your team's feedback -- Ever open up a Microsoft Word document with tracked changes form three, four, or even more document reviewers or stake holders? We have, and, we'll tell you what: It aint pretty, easy, or inexpensive (for you) trying to figure out who said what, whose comments take precedence, or if there's anything resembling a concensus among the group. So, here again -- and again, recognizing that this does take a little of your precious time -- take a few minutes to review, discern, and be "the decider" for your internal team before you lob it into our court. As it good as it may feel to get it off your desk right now, unconsolidated and unclear feedback will result in headaches and bigger invoices later on.  
  3. Work from a year-long plan vs. project-to-project -- As fun and exciting as it may be to chase the shiniest penny, shoot the latest bird that flushes, or (insert your favorite metaphor for 'ad hoc approach here) -- it's simply more expensive to engage your agency on a project-by-project basis than it is to hash out and have them work to a long-term plan. Why is that? Well, just as starting and stopping a machine requires more energy vs. keeping it running at a lower intensity (HVAC professionals refer to this as running close to 'set point' instead of vascilating all over the place), it takes time for your agency to start and stop its processes, people, and dedicated resources for short spurts. Not only that, following a plan yields a host of quality-related benefits...chief among them: (a.) your key messages and strategy won't get lost or watered down, because they are always in mind and being minded by people consistently assigned to your account; and (b.) your marketing will naturally have a more consistent look, feel, and read -- since you and your agency will be sticking to the plan instead of veering off on project-oriented tangents. (It's just human nature for you, or your agency for that matter, to 'change things up' when given the chance, even if such impulses detract from your larger goals.)

Bottom line: Your marketing and your agency's performance will be better for some self-imposed discipline. And, in the process, both you and they may find more money in the till to have fun with.

Thanks for listening.

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