An Agency CEO and Brand CMO Write Each Other's Resolutions

What Each Side Wants from the Other in 2015

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Clients and agencies notoriously misunderstand each other. Their mutual complaints make great water-cooler fodder but rarely come out in the open. That's why this year, we decided to write New Year's resolutions for the other side. And while we may seem tough on each other, we have actually enjoyed a close agency-client relationship for over 10 years, hopefully without most of the issues raised below.

Agency resolutions (from the brand)

1. Learn our business. Too many agencies pitch us without having done their homework. We even had a well-known boutique agency allow a junior social-media strategist to lecture us on Social Media 101. #Fail. You need to be a sponge and participate in our business as much as you can.

2. Be a real partner. We see a huge correlation between curiosity about our company and effective work. Agencies need to make sure their core team is fully engaged, not just the account people.

3. Understand our objectives. Our goals should be the guiding light for everything you do. Things change in marketing. We get that, but you still have to keep a laser focus on our objectives. Fight for great work only when it clearly addresses what we are trying to achieve.

4. Be transparent. Always. Openness is a must for a healthy partnership. And don't hesitate call BS on us when we deserve it. We're adults, and we can take it.

5. Know yourself. You should know what your agency is good at, and more importantly, what it isn't. That will define the type of clients best suited to your success.

6. Be proactive. Pitch us on an idea even if we didn't ask for it. That shows that you know and care about our business.

7. Play to win. That's all we want. Always strive for the best and we'll celebrate success together.

8. Ask us for an endorsement. I'm proud of our agency partnerships and like to tell others who deserve our agencies' attention.

Brand resolutions (from the agency)

1. Commit to grow. Too much cash is sitting on the sidelines these days. Let's go for 10X-type ideas together, not the boring, single-digit growth budgets that are popular today at publicly traded companies.

2. Mandate ROI. Three-quarters of marketers say they have at best a qualitative understanding of the impact their activities are having on their businesses. A measly 15% know the value of their social media. Your digital ecosystem can be measured and should be. Commit to a model for gauging its value and by all means hold us accountable to it.

3. Go where your customers are. Build apps (again). Over half of all digital time and traffic is spent on apps, so you need to make credible investments there. Also, if you want to reach millennials, you have to commit to YouTube and content in a big way.

4. Tell the truth. Be transparent about your goals and what success looks like to you. Make sure your agency understands that and works closely with your teams to make your goals reality.

5. Truly commit to innovation. We're all talking a bigger innovation game than we're playing right now. So partner with us to innovate on new platforms.

6. Don't be assholes. (Not talking about Kieran, of course.) Culture matters. If your agency's people like you, you will get the best work and best value out of them. If you behave like jerks, their top people will rotate off your account as soon as they can. It's that simple.

7. Invest in agency relationships. The world's most respected brands have long-term relationships with their agencies. But it seems like half of all companies are now reviewing relationships annually. To get the most out of an agency takes time, patience and commitment.

8. Think before acting. Right now everyone is reading the same blogs, following the same trends, and feeling pressure to respond to every competitive move on a new platform or technology. You can't retweet your business model. You have to stop and think about what makes strategic sense (or ask us to help you).

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