Agencies whether above the line, below the line, responsible for your online or offline spend, once they shake your hand you had better check how many fingers you have left.
How do I know this? well I have worked with them all over the past 40 years, Saatchi, Y&R, Wunderman, JWT, ……… either advising them directly, working with them at the instruction of clients or, yes, foolishly, appointing a few for my own business and believe me, whilst there are some good ones, there are a lot of sharks out there.
If you decide that you need to appoint an agency for their expertise in promoting your products or services make sure they get you and that they show genuine enthusiasm for what you are selling. But, be ready for the spiel they come out with because they do a lot of ‘blue sky thinking’ and they have ideas that are ‘outside the box’ they are also heavily into ‘thought showers’ (that’s brainstorming to you and me) As soon as their verbal twaddle starts making no sense to you, that is when you should sit up and start to realise that you might be dealing with a jerk or a wet behind the ears grad with no ‘street’ experience or someone tricking your spend!! Hello!!!! warning bells ringing???? can you hear them, well you should listen.
Oh and if you thought you knew the budget spend with them, better double it and add a bit for their travel, hotel accommodation, and refreshments because like accountants, they don’t shit for nothing ! Oh and the blue sky, outside the box, thought showers are all billable (in their eyes) so watch out.
I have seen clients place every part of their spend with an agency, sometimes against my advice, and have seen bills go through the roof. I remember when an agency, who shall remain nameless WMGO…….oops! charged Virgin a fee for buying in some outside services back in the 1990’s (it still goes on today) they billed Virgin £3,000, we later found the true cost was £300. So whenever the opportunity arises they will always stick another zero on, so watch them like a hawk and learn how it is they pay for the large, luxurious offices in Soho !!!!! Insist on open bill policy and even check out their suppliers with some mystery shopping of your own. Or of course buy the services yourself now there’s a novel idea.
Don’t get carried away as even I once did just a few years ago during a re-design of my website with a newly appointed agency. I got completely carried away in a thought shower and what should have cost me £5,000 actually ended up at £35,000. I vowed never again and I mean that. And we had a top team at the agency until a few weeks passed and I ended up with a bunch of wet behind the ears grads !! who hadn’t got a fecking clue….
Look, the lesson here is a simple one. If you actually feel you need to employ the services of an ad agency check them out. Don’t take a list of testimonials from them, do some bloody research yourselves, find out what they have done in the past and speak to their clients about the experience. Insist on open invoicing. Don’t accept a graduate team, they can be part of it but not entirely. Get someone with proven experience and contract them to your team. Set budgets up front and be clear about what you are paying for and what you will not pay for. Put time penalties in place because they love to stretch it out (billable). Like I have said, there are a few excellent agencies out there but there are an awful lot of fakers and takers so be warned and be ready. Oh and on a personal note, don’t feel belittled by their arrogance and snobbery, they work for you not the other way round always remember that. If you ever need advice from someone that knows and someone that won’t get ‘done’ again you know how to contact me all billable of course.