Communication key

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Pharmaceutical marketers aren't the only ones concerned about how they are communicating with their agencies. Good communication is the most valued characteristic of agency/client relationships, according to a recent survey by the Association of National Advertisers.

Joanne Davis, of Joanne Davis Consulting, conducted the ANA's study, which surveyed 108 ANA members and 107 agency executives. Lightspeed Research, a WPP Group market-research firm, fielded it in January. It was presented at last week's ANA Agency Relations forum.

The definition of good communication differed depending on the respondents' perspective-marketer or agency. Marketers, asked what they want each agency to fulfill, said they value responsiveness (95%) and outstanding service (95%) above all else. Asked the open-ended query, "Overall, what do you want from your clients?" and allowed to check multiple responses, the top-ranking response, cited by 94% of agency respondents, was communication (including criticism). Respect/trust (90%) and fair payment (88%) were also popular, followed by clear direction (81%).

Also important, cited by 86% of marketer respondents, are campaigns that are effective in meeting a marketer's goals. But to determine a campaign's efficacy, both client and agencies must agree on specific criteria that a campaign will achieve.

"You'd be surprised how many clients aren't specific on that," said Steve Blamer, CEO, North America, Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, one of a trio of panelists who commented on the study's results.

Fellow panelist Cathy Constable, former marketing executive at AT&T and now a consultant, agreed, adding that "particularly in large organizations, goals may vary between colleagues, so it is critical that one consensus is communicated to the agency." She also recommended that goals be reviewed quarterly.

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