Dave Paulus struck a nerve. Many of our readers have commented on Dave’s column about going around an advertising agency to make sales calls on the local client. In case you missed it last week, here’s the column again, along with your comments at the end. Keep the conversation going!
(By Dave Paulus) So I’ve been asked a ton of questions in the last few months about my transition from the radio leadership world to the agency side of the business. Some questions are really intriguing, some not so much, and some in the middle. However, there is one question I am asked constantly by my friends on the media side. It’s the one I thought I’d speak a bit about today.
Is there a right time to go around an agency?
The answer, I believe, resides with the AE and the leadership team at the radio station group.
Copout? I hope not, but to really solve this riddle, it takes a trip to the mirror.
As a radio account executive, if you’re thinking about going around an agency, you have to ask yourself some tough questions first.
Here are a few:
Have you been the ultimate marketing partner for the agency? Have you provided accurate and fair information about the marketplace on a consistent basis? Have you communicated all relevant information about your stations and your company, correctly and consistently?
Are you thinking about going around an agency because it’s the right time to consider doing that? (Or is it because you’re not getting the answers you
Have you done enough homework on the account in question so you can truly say you know more than most about the client’s business cycle? If you were buying media or considering your stations from the agency perspective — would you be proud of yourself?
And here’s the key. It has to be 100 percent yes. This ain’t baseball, where three out of 10 is a good performance and 3 1/2 out of 10 gets you to Cooperstown. Every question above has to be a yes! If they aren’t, you shouldn’t move forward.
Here’s what an agency owes you:
Fair and reasonable communication.
Yeah, that’s not fair, right? I mean look at all the questions I asked about the account executive performance, and here with the agency, there’s really just one. They owe you a return phone call, text, or e-mail, or at least an update on where the account stands, within a reasonable time frame. Oh, and by the way — that time frame you think is fair may not be fair to the agency.
Look, one of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve done more and more here is how clients change direction on a dime. On top of that, how the agency has to be even faster to anticipate those turns before they happen. It’s not up to the agency to help you make your budget. Or your digital goal. Or sell the packages your boss is on your ass about.
It’s the agency’s responsibility to do fantastic marketing work for the client.
So, thinking about going around an agency? It’s a big decision, and just like in Thelma and Louise, there ain’t no turning back.
So ask yourself those questions and look in the mirror. If you can honestly say yes to all those questions, if you’re truly proud of your effort and performance, and if the agency hasn’t provided you fair and reasonable communication — it might be time.
Dave Paulus is Director of Client Services, O’Brien et al Advertising.