In fact, a current client of nine years just put us in review. Why? New marketing director on board, with friends at another shop. Sound familiar? (For the record, we're not re-pitching. Hell no. Great brand, mostly great people. But a no-win situation. Fortunately, we have plenty of new-business leads now, and will focus our valuable time on winning new relationships.)
Nevertheless, the short marriages between agency and clients are a problem. It's harder to get paid for strategic thinking. You have to repeatedly justify the talented team you put on the client's brand because clients constantly question fees. And when agencies want to measure ROI, getting alignment on the metrics is just a ton of fun. What we all got into the business for.
What's going on?
Some say it's pressure on marketing directors to perform. I won't argue that, but I think it's also something else. I think it's the environment in which we do business. We now operate at the speed of the internet, with fast, impersonal transactions. It's a give-it-to-me-now-or-I'm-going-elsewhere-to-get-it world. That mentality has seeped its way into our industry. You can take a client out for a round of golf to build the relationship. But if he doesn't get results on the promotion next week, he'll thank you for the 18 holes and take his business elsewhere. Nothing personal.
What that does is put agencies in a very insecure place. We never really know how long a client relationship will last even if we believe we are performing well. And the number of pitches goes up -- you have to replace the recently-departed client, as well as the recently-completed project. Exhausting!
My advice is to covet the good clients still left. Spoil them with thinking and service.
And for the project clients? Take them on if they're going to make your agency better creatively or financially, or give you experience in a new category.
But don't waste your time on the golf course. Save that for your family and friends.