Imagine a client asking, “Is this the best media strategy for my brand?”
It’s a tough question because it’s this humble Media Guy’s opinion that there are many ways to skin a cat, and the qualifications for “best” are subjective. In today’s fragmented media landscape, there are far too many options and combinations to designate one as the gold standard. However, it should be noted that within the context of a brand’s specific objectives and strategic approach, some solutions are just plain wrong due to lack of communication.
Here’s the push: we work in the “Communications” sector, but often we don’t communicate well between ourselves, our clients and the outside vendors. All parties involved should strive to develop channels of communication with clarity and reciprocation; without clarity, incorrect solutions rear their ugly heads.
The client half of the agency-client relationship is responsible for providing sensible guardrails derived from their brand’s goals and “go-to-business” path. Agency folks must be guided by these well thought out marketing objectives and strategies. Only when we know specifically what our clients are trying to achieve - and how - can we make an argument that a specific media strategy and tactic is correct or off base.
All too often, internal agency staff or agency partners lack the skill/knowledge, the time, or the willingness to communicate adequately to their internal audiences. Thus, valuable time is wasted and Quality Assurance (QA) / Creative Assurance (CA) erodes. Sometimes, we forget that we are a communications company within a service-oriented business … and it is critical that clarity be a cornerstone of our daily operations.
Clear external communication to vendors is incredibly valuable, as vendor proposals are only as good as the clarity of the agency’s requests. The vendor community plays a critical role in not only providing pricing and plans but also in enabling agencies to have a finger on the pulse of the industry. This does not suggest that media vendors will be our close friends; but a strong overall relationship should be coveted by both seller and buyer.
Clarity and Reciprocation
For whatever reason, clarity and reciprocation too often are missing in today’s business relationships. Many factors cause miscommunication, but lack of clarity and reciprocation are two enormous barriers that impede successful solutions.
Many factors cloud clarity. Here are several fundamental ones:
Lack of understanding / knowledge
Second- and third-hand translations
… all of us within the marketing/advertising matrix are guilty of one or more of these-- mainly because we’re human.
The best way to overcome a lack of clarity is simple:
Raise your hand and ask questions
Try to be front-and-center to hear information first hand
Be intellectually curious and verify information
If possible, be realistic about outcomes from unrealistic goals or objectives
Reciprocation sounds like a big scary concept, but it is merely the basis for which a service business exists. In the marketing/advertising sector, all parties need to respect each other’s roles and have constant unimpeded dialogue. Without the ability to have an honest, working conversation, the whole shooting match starts to fall apart. Clients should feel free to communicate to their agencies; and likewise, the agency with their clients. The agency/vendor conversation is equally important to the success of a campaign or ongoing business.
It is my humble opinion that the most successful marketing/advertising solutions are derived when a clear, two-sided dialogue exists between the client - agency - vendor relationship matrix.
With a clear channel of communication between professional partners, the likelihood of generating smart, creative thinking increases. My logic does not suggest that successful outcomes are guaranteed; but in today’s fast-paced business world, increasing the odds for positive solutions is a distinct competitive advantage.
Lastly, “old fashioned blocking and tackling” concepts such as trust, courtesy, sharing, and professional protocols are more easily recognized/built as evergreen concepts when clarity and reciprocation exist within the channels of communication.