Agency-client confusion abounds

6 November 2014

LONDON: There are "clear and extensive" mismatches between the way agencies and clients think and act according to a new study which highlights the continued scope for misunderstanding over everything from the size of an account to the delivery of feedback.

On the last point, for example, research from FindGood, a client-agency matchmaker, found that, in a survey of almost 500 client marketers and 500 agencies in the UK, 26% of clients claimed to always give feedback on agency pitches. But just 1% of agencies said they always got such a response.

And while one might expect budgets to be a source of friction, what was surprising was how early in the relationship money could become an issue. Just 9% of agencies reported that a budget outline was always contained in the brief with almost half (48%) of clients saying they always included this information.

When it comes to the pitch itself, there was a widespread expectation among clients (37%) that they would be meeting the team they might be working with. Only 5% of agencies, however, would send the entire team.

More importantly, client-side marketers said that more than half the time the ultimate decision maker was present at a pitch, a figure that dropped to 20% in the view of agencies.

Quite apart from this significant discrepancy, FindGood noted that the absence of that decision maker could easily delay the whole process and lead to more last-minute changes.

A potentially mitigating factor here was the willingness of both sides to talk to each other ahead of chemistry and pitch meetings – 77% of clients were willing to do so, 67% of agencies expected to do so – a development that should result in greater clarity on each side's expectations.

"Finding the right agency, in the right way, at the start of the process can make or break the creative relationship from day one," Annabelle Bates, managing director of FindGood, told The Drum.

"When there's a gulf in communications and actions, there's also a gulf in understanding, which is unhelpful for everyone. A long and productive relationship between agencies and clients is the gold standard, and that has to begin with a well-run pitch."

Data sourced from FindGood, The Drum; additional content by Warc staff