(By Bob McCurdy) I recently read an article in Advertising Age that I’ve been thinking about ever since. While it dealt with one client’s view of advertising agencies, it would not be too much of a stretch to envision a local advertiser voicing similar concerns to us, given the opportunity.
The article, “Here’s Why CMOs Hate Agencies That Are Lions-Obsessed,” can be found here. “Lions” are highly coveted creative awards doled out at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity each year.
While reading the following excerpt, substitute “radio” for “agency,” “Nielsen ratings” for “Cannes Lions,” and “promotions/opportunities” for “contests.”
The CMO of a large CPG company kindly addressed our agency about the needs and wants of clients today, and how we, as advertising and marketing professionals, could better serve them. His speech was hard-hitting. The below is paraphrased.
“You agency guys come to see us and tell us what you can do. I am a CMO of a company that is losing sales, bleeding to death slowly. I need solutions for growth. I need people who can help me achieve this, not win Cannes Lions. And here you guys are talking about contests that mean absolutely nothing to helping my brand.”
This CMO next elaborated on the real human conditions of our clients that agencies sometimes forget about. “I have kids in school, a mortgage, and a job that’s hard to replace. I need to grow my brand to keep my job and my family’s interests alive. And you guys have the nerve to come in here and talk to me about some contest I could care less about?
There are a couple of important takeaways from the excerpt above:
It is never about “us.” it is about “them.” Necessary prep to understand their issues, challenges, and competitive situation? Have we done enough of it?
Going for the quick buck will result in a quick exit from the client’s place of business and eventually this industry. Clients need media partners who deeply understand both their businesses and challenges, media partners who are able to put themselves in their shoes, advising them as if they were investing their own money.
The last paragraph is the one that really stood out to me, reinforcing the fact that advertising investment decisions have big consequences for those approving them. In the race to make a budget, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of this fact.
It could be the difference between a client staying in business or not. It could be the difference between remaining employed or not. It could be the difference between getting a promotion or not, or if you are an agency, between keeping an account or not.
Whether we are dealing with a media buyer or planner or business owner, their daily decisions affect their job security, promotions, advancement, and families in ways that might not be readily apparent.
When someone decides to invest their marketing dollars with us, we have a responsibility to provide them with the best professional advice possible and the best way to accomplish this is to become a “learning” professional. Constantly enhancing our marketing acumen, utilizing all of the resources of the RAB and Nielsen and relentlessly identifying the most effective ways to deploy our broadcast and digital assets on their behalf, all need to be part of our daily regimen.
Our clients trust our professional advice and recommendations and we must be worthy of that trust by backing it up with profound, ever-evolving advertising and marketing expertise. The responsibility to provide them with as much “safety” to their ad investment decisions, decisions that have considerable consequences for them, their companies and their families, is one that we must never take lightly.
Bob McCurdy is The Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org