11 traits of a good agency

Posted by Marc Williams on Jul 24, 2012 11:49:00 AM

A good marketing agency is hard to come by, and so is a good client for that matter. When relationships are good they produce amazing results. I pulled together a list of traits that are not only inherent to my agency, Williams Helde Marketing Communications, but also traits I believe foster success.

1. A positive attitude
Always bring inspiration and a smile to every interaction. We are in this business because we love it—and our love of marketing should be infectious!

2. Understand the marketing mandate and ask questions
Too often agencies want to control the agenda and often repurpose the assignment to fit their needs. A good agency will listen, ask deep questions and understand the market dynamics.

3. Budget aware, ROMI focused
Agencies are often clueless of what a budget means and how to work within it. They certainly have plenty of million dollar ideas, but sometimes a client just needs the block and tackle. And if we spend a million bucks…can we see a return? How?

4. Ideas beyond advertising
A true marketing partner can look at a situation and let you know that perhaps an on-pack TPR is really what you need to move product. It's not always about a viral video or a stunt. Good agencies are media agnostic. Unfortunately, most agencies are still funded by big media dollars.

5. Focus on your business, not their new business
Above all the work should be about the best interest of your business, not a creative award opportunity or a spot in their reel. It’s amazing that agencies put so much effort into new business that they often lose sight of what they already have…clients.

6. Think like your audience
Agencies are in a unique position—by nature they posses a broader view of the market and can offer fresh ideas compared to in-house staff. While articulation of insights and a customer perspective can be extremely helpful, an agency should also be sensitive to the fact that clients live and breathe this stuff everyday. Some things are sacred, even if they don’t always make sense from an agency standpoint.

7. Solutions, not problems
Good agencies admit when a mistake is made. They not only bring it to your attention immediately but they bring you a solution. Everybody screws up some time or another. An agency that cares will help make it right and take the responsibility.

8. Rapid response
Good agency people respond quickly to every email and call. Even if it's just to tell you they don’t have an answer but are working on it. Nobody likes to report back to their boss that they are waiting to hear back from you. This is not only a service issue, but one that shows you care about the business and them as a human being.

9. To the point
They can explain an entire ad concept in one sentence—without a storyboard. A really good idea doesn’t need an elaborate set-up and explanation. Like they say, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not funny.

10. Understand why
Sometimes there are revisions, changes and modifications to be made. Marketing is often a work in progress and environments change by the second. A good agency will understand why there are revisions and work and why they are happening. More imporatantly, there needs to be the same level of enthusiasm to the second round as there was to the first round.

11. Long term profits, not short-term cash.
In place of nickel and diming billings statements with minor revisions and fax charges, drive improved long-term agency revenue by focusing on results for your clients. A good agency knows where the money is—it’s in the results. It’s not about making an extra $100 on a powerpoint presentation… its about making a powerpoint that helps the team launch the product that drive marketing investment.

These are just a few of the traits that foster success. I’m sure there are at least 100 more…


About Marc Williams:

Marc Williams is the president and sole owner of Seattle’s oldest independent advertising agency, Williams Helde Marketing Communications. Marc has extensive experience in branding, marketing and advertising, serving as creative director and now as agency principal. Williams Helde is currently ranked among the top 15 agencies in the Pacific Northwest by revenue according to the Puget Sound Business Journal and focuses on national and global clients. Marc has taught courses at Seattle University within their MBA program and served as Chairman of the Board for the Northwest Entrepreneur Network. As a graduate of Western Washington University, Marc brings a powerful combination of creative insight, brand strategy and design aesthetic to everything he creates.

Topics: Thought Leadership, Williams Helde