What all marketing agencies have in common is the want to satisfy and get along with the Clients they service. They know that pleasing the Client as much as possible is the way to build longer term business relationships. They also know that introducing too much conflict and they stand a chance of losing the Client they worked so hard to get. I know this all sounds very obvious but it is also a very dangerous position to be in.
Surround Yourself with the Right People
As a business owner, it’s important to surround yourself with people who question your ideas. Having a bunch of “Yes Men and Women” around you leaves you vulnerable as you never get true outside feedback. Look at what happened with Michael Jordan when he bought the Bobcats. He suffered a lot of struggle and as Charles Barkley described the situation:
“I think the biggest problem has been I don’t know if he (Michael Jordan) has hired enough people around him who he will listen to. One thing about being famous is the people around you, you pay all their bills so they very rarely disagree with you because they want you to pick up the check. They want to fly around on your private jet so they never disagree with you. I don’t think Michael has hired enough people around him who will disagree.”
You may not own a private jet and be as famous as Michael but you do cut the check and pay their bills so this same principle applies.
Who’s Responsible for This Behavior
As easy as it is to just blame the marketing agencies for this “Yes Men and Women” behavior, it’s important to know that this is a two sided issue. Do agencies have an obligation to tell the Client their professional opinion regardless of if it conflicts with the Client’s opinions? Absolutely they do. If they aren’t then they better give the Client a disclaimer letting them know this before they take the job. But does the Client have the obligation to be open minded and not have the “My way or the Highway Attitude”? Well, I wouldn’t say it’s an obligation they have as they are the one cutting the check and it is their business but I would say it should be a standard courtesy.
Bias Opinions Play a Role
I know business owners may feel hesitant to take feedback from an agency as there is bias involved and you just can’t ignore that. The agency may be giving you an opinion based on what is in their best interests and not yours. For example, an agency could suggest increasing your Adwords budget is better than investing more in SEO. They may tell you this because they get 10% of Ad Budget as a service fee and increasing the budget increases the fee they earn. Or they may suggest that creating a beautiful logo and graphics for your website is the best way to build better brand awareness. They may also be telling you this because they get cheap creative work done overseas and their margins are much better on that then building out brand awareness campaigns on Facebook.
How We Play an Important Role
AOS Audit plays a very important role in this situation. By being an unbiased and professional source, we are able to get the trust from the business owner which in turn allows them to open up and be more open minded to an outside opinion. The honest marketing agencies also get a benefit. They now know they can communicate more openly with their Client without being afraid of losing them as they know we are there to validate the honest opinions they give. If the marketing agency had ill intentions and were promoting a strategy that was at the detriment of the Client then we are able to sniff it out and make sure the Client is informed of the situation. At the end of the day, we want honest and transparent business to rise to the top while exposing and flushing out the rest.