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The value of good behaviour

19 Mar 2014  |  David Indo 
The value of good behaviour

In a new four-part series examining how brand behaviour impacts on media value, David Indo, co-founder of ID Comms, kicks off by looking at brands that behave badly - and how they might pay the same headline price for their media but will lose out in lots of other ways...

We believe that good clients get better value from their media agencies. They get better service, access to more innovation, better talent and more effective process and tools.

It all adds up to a more productive relationship but sadly there are a lot of advertisers who behave in a way that reduces the value they receive.

On the assumption that a client fundamentally believes that media can be a powerful lever for business growth and not simply a cost to be managed down, then the difference in value delivery between a client with good behaviours and one with poor behaviours can be as much as 35%.

So how do you become a good or a better client and what does being a good client mean?

It isn't about spending more money, it's about how you behave as a media client and how you treat your media agency that can really make the difference.

Good clients get great media value because their agencies like working for them, they are inspired by them, they know where they stand and they know that their views are treated with respect.

Good behaviour isn't just about getting the right contract and terms of trade in place."

David Ogilvy famously said that: "Clients get the advertising they deserve". I believe that clients receive the media value they deserve.

ID Comms defines media value as being more than just the rates at which you pay for media space. We believe that true media value is trading value combined with the talent, the management focus, the access to process tools, research and innovation.

"Good" clients get more of this value by adopting certain key behaviours. This is especially important for mid-sized advertisers, those spending between £5 million and £10 million locally or less than £100 million on regional basis.

Good behaviour isn't just about getting the right contract and terms of trade in place, although these are important, it's about how you conduct every interaction with your media agency, how you treat them and how you respond to them (as well as the way you monitor their performance).

Much of what we define below as good behaviour might come from a basic management manual or even a Victorian book of good manners. But with media often falling through the skills gap between marketing and procurement at many clients, even quite large ones, many media agency professionals would say that some of the basic respect their skills deserve often goes missing.

In such an environment good clients stand out. They get more attention, more effort and more value.

After all, if you were an agency, why wouldn't you want to put more effort in for a client that treated you like a partner not a supplier, who was passionate about media and encouraged you to challenge them as part of the process of developing better solutions?

It sounds simple but making it happen is not always easy. Media is a complex business and a people centric operation, and people in any industry can be tricky to handle.

Nevertheless, the better value on offer is substantial. At a time when marketers will pitch an account to drive the media cost down by just 5%, it seems foolish to ignore the 30% plus improvement that can be achieved simply by behaving well.

The nice...and the naughty


The Good:
- Treat your agency as a partner
- Have a vision or ambition for media
- Be clear what the role and scope of the agency is
- Provide clear and instructive briefs
- Allow the agency to challenge and provoke debate
- Embrace different ways of thinking and innovation even if unproven
- Provide clear and considered feedback
- Set reasonable response times
- Pay fairly and link a proportion of fee to delivery of key KPIs
- Be respectful and encouraging

The Bad:
- Consider media as a cost to be managed down
- Treat agencies like service providers
- Look to constantly find savings within agency remuneration
- Provide lazy and poorly developed briefs (don't brief via text message)
- Are indecisive or constantly changing their minds
- Are repeatedly unreasonable in the requests and in delivery deadlines
- Rude and disrespectful
- Inconsistent in feedback and approach
- Constantly reactive to situations rather than being proactive
- Provide briefs without prior senior management alignment
- Unwilling to consider new approaches and ideas

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David Indo, Founding Partner, ID Comms on 20 Mar 2014
“Thanks Bob, I’m glad you found the piece interesting. We at ID Comms value and support the work you and ISBA are doing particularly around good media governance principles and best practice in media management.

The fundamental issue of trust between client and agency is so critical and yet in our conversations with senior client stakeholders it seems to be an area of worrying deterioration.

The source of the problem, in our experience, is often an out of date contract or a poorly designed agency scope of work and/ or an ill-conceived agency remuneration structure, compounded by on-going confusion over digital trading practices.

Where a significant lack of trust currently exists, a serious breakdown in relationship is rarely far behind.”
bob, wootton, isba on 19 Mar 2014
“Very good piece, David, and as you know complements the work we're doing here at ISBA. I agree with all of it, but the more I learn about the current trading environment, the more I see a key missing emerging. Trust. The very foundation upon which implementation of your recommendations must surely be based.

Granted, agencies might not have sought literally dozens of ways of augmenting their income had they not abandoned themselves to competitive instinct and allowed themselves to be put under intolerable margin pressure by their clients. Now they're dependent on many income streams other than clients' (allegedly unsustainably low) fees. Most of these are covert. There's simply no basis of trust in this model on which to build.

In digital media channels, it's even worse yet. A much more convoluted 'food chain' with legion financial interdependencies along the way whose accumulated fees can outweigh the value of media bought, itself of questionable value as much of it is not viewable by humans and where a last-click attribution model can also make it subject to widespread click fraud, lucrative to organised crime. Gawd. We've got a lot to do!”

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11 Nov 2019 

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