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Show us the money

19 May 2010 One Comment

I’ve spent a little bit of time working on the client side of the business. Not much, but just enough to give me a little perspective.

It’s all about the money.

This is not a judgment. It is simply a statement of fact. You work for a large corporation, chances are you get a large bonus when you hit your numbers. Not an ad agency sized bonus, but serious money.

No wonder clients are so nervous about some of the work we present. There is no incentive to take a big risk, the payoff comes when you do what has been proven to work.

Again, this is not a judgment. It is simply a statement of fact. We on the agency side are simply not on the same page with our clients when it comes to our goals. We make our salary whether or not our work performs or not. So we are less afraid of risk. And less concerned with failure too.

Sure, we could lose the business if our work continues to underperform. But we could also lose the business for political or personal reasons beyond our control. Client turnover is so frequent these days it almost feels inevitable.

All of which means we don’t really feel a connection to our clients and their goals.

So how do we fix it? Simple. Create the same goals for both sides. If your client gets a fat check when they hit their numbers, so should every employee who works on that business. Not just the agency execs, but each and every person working in the trenches.

Can you imagine how differently creatives might approach an ad if they knew they’d make more money if it performed better? Or how an account person might approach a brief knowing their wallets would get fatter if that brief led to great creative that increased sales?

You might think it would lead to safe, no-risk creative. And you could be right. But I think it would actually lead to more risk-taking, because now the client would know we have a stake.

Imagine that, clients and agency people all working towards the same goal. It just doesn’t seem right, does it?

- TJ Bennett

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