Nick's Insight

Getting the most out of your creative agency

April 16, 2019
Nick Prescott
Managing Director
RIP big teams, rulebooks, and boring meetings - ours is a brave new world free of the mundane. The kind of clients we change want action; agile minds, innovation, and the ability to think, do and make happen now. They crave invention, creativity, guile, and energy. They seek new strength and purpose. They dare to challenge ordinary, go beyond, take on giants and win.

Great ideas are not exclusive to famous agencies.

Often an independent agency, like us, offers a smarter, more agile alternative for niche brands or for those off the wall projects that didn’t get big agency budget, or need immediate attention that’s more difficult for a heavyweight to react to. A different perspective and keener approach to these can be advantageous, even liberating for the ambitious client.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not challenging big ticket agencies; clearly, they have the depth of expertise and resource needed for complex undertakings. I’m just suggesting that they are not always the best fit, particularly for smaller businesses or challenger brands looking to get the most out of their time and money.

For our clients, being agile means we can focus all our attention and energy on one thing more readily; indeed it enables us to be more cost effective too. We don’t have the constraints of overhead and overwhelming scale of the big guns, but we do have the experience and craft you’d normally only associate with leading agencies. We learned our trade in some of them.

Never underestimate chemistry.

Putting expertise, experience and a shelf of pencils and awards aside, if you don’t like or trust the people you work with at your agency, its credentials aren’t worth a cent. What matters most is that your experts are listening and actually give a shit. Also, ask yourself, are you actually getting that pencil-winning expertise or just the junior team that were making the coffee a month before you showed up with your not-so celebrated project?

We can’t emphasise enough how important the ‘people’ bit is. The client/agency relationship and the objectives of any project rely on both teams collaborating behind an idea and sharing a mutual understanding. Often that chemistry is invisible, but you each know when it’s there or if it isn’t. In our experience when it’s not there, you are better off accepting it and parting ways. The journey will not be an enjoyable one, and the chances of success are limited.

Respect travels both ways.

Agencies do get a hard time from clients, regardless of type or scale. Sometimes it can feel a bit like a loveless marriage. For example, the free pitch has become the most debated topic in agency land because it is inherently unfair and undermines everything that a client/agency relationship should be built on. And, at the blunt end of things, there are thousands of enthusiastic agencies being beaten up on price too, in a competitive bun-fight that serves neither client nor agency. Sure, there’s no harm in competition, else it would be very dull, as long as it’s based on more than just money. Any good agency should relish being challenged by clients or be pushed to be better by their competitors, but not be driven to be cheaper. My advice to a client, if they want to get the most out of their agency, whoever they are, is to respect their agency team and appreciate them. It makes a massive difference in attitude, the experience and results.

Keep it real.

The client/agency deal isn’t transactional, or about deliberating costs on unrealistic briefs, or the promise of more work later, nor an opportunity for the agency to blag about expertise they don’t have either.

It should be effortless, built on integrity, honesty and both sides getting what they want and need out of a mutually enjoyable partnership. Without that, you’re all doomed to fail somewhere down the line.

So, our top tips on getting the most out of your agency…

1.    Big ideas are not exclusive to big agencies.

2.    Never underestimate chemistry.

3.    Respect travels both ways.

4.    Keep it real.


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