The Small Agency's Guide to Holiday Gift Giving

What Should an Agency Owner Give and Get From Clients and Staff?

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Marc Brownstein
Marc Brownstein
So we gave thanks with our family and friends, and now we turn our attention to "buying" for them. Ah yes, is it any wonder Thanksgiving is such a popular holiday? No stress; just eating. But alas, we must be consumers. We are Americans after all, and soft economy or not, we will buy stuff. How much and at what price is still to be determined.

This year, I thought it would be appropriate to create a shopping list for agency owners: "The Small Agency's Guide to Holiday Gift Giving."

For your employees:

  • Commitment to evolve. The marketing world is changing by the week. Now's the time to map out a plan to not only stay current, but to stay ahead of the changes.

  • Communication. In my experience, an agency staff that is well informed of what's going on in the shop is one that is engaged and doesn't rely on or create rumors.

  • Technology. Keep your agency wired with the latest

  • Raises. Remember those? If your agency can afford them, give them.

  • Bonuses. If you're still not in a position to give raises, consider the impact of a gift of some year-end cash.

  • End-of-Year Shindig. Many of them were canceled last year in the recession. Would be nice to bring back some cheer to your staff who puts in the long hours all year long. Doesn't have to be expensive, just fun.
For your clients:
  • Road Map. It's complicated out there, and many companies don't know how to reach and influence customers like they used to. Give them a road map with clear direction, brilliant insights, and flawless execution.

  • Talent. There's a lot of great talent still seeking jobs. If your agency is thinking about hiring, now would be a good time to put some extra talent in your stocking. It's a great client growth/retention strategy.

  • Transparency. Be straight with your clients. If you don't know something, say so. If you have a point of view, speak up. If you disagree with a decision, don't hold back. If you're candid with your clients, and it's in their best interests, then you must deliver it without any fancy wrapping. That, in itself, will be a refreshing gift for your clients.

  • Measurement. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Give your clients the gift of measurement and reporting and they will give you their loyalty in return. Note: Soon this gift may not be optional.
From your clients:
  • Retainers. There aren't many of them today, but if you can find them, consider it a gift.

  • Trust. If your agency has earned it, this gift will lay the foundation for unconventional thinking -- and results.

  • Informed Procurement Team. I understand why procurement departments are important. But it's arguable that they have gone too far, and left little on the table for their agency partners. Instead of treating the purchasing of ideas the same as paperclips, imagine a world where procurement executives learned about the agency business -- the process of creating ideas -- so that we wouldn't have to justify fees that in many cases are already too low.

  • Recognition. Man, when a client takes the time to pick up the phone or send a note of praise, it goes a long way and injects an immediate burst of high morale in the agency team.

I could go on and on with this list. Curious to hear what you would add to it. And wouldn't it be something if we could check off every one of these items on the list above? Happy Holiday shopping!

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