Next up in the 4 typical Client Profiles is one that we often encounter-
The Marketing Communications Manager at non-Marketing driven companies.
She can be found at companies where the marketing function is not a core function. Said in another way, and unlike the P&G’s of the world, the marketing person is almost never going to run this company. A good example would be Microsoft, which competes in technology and the core competency is programming. They are geared to hire a different type of college graduate (or dropout!) and have to source their advertising know-how from outside the company.
They find this skill set in Advertising and Media Agencies. Sometimes they will find it in Research Agencies as well. But the common denominator of these candidates is that they managed accounts and were able to make the leap to the Client side.
It is important to note that for many Agency people, making the leap to the Client side is like dying and going to heaven. Imagine having the power to say yes or no! And to be wined and dined and treated with consideration and respect! They also often feel that they know the Agency “tricks” so they will be able to do a great job at managing the Agency. Unlike the Packaged Goods Marketer whose focus is his career, the MarCom person’s focus is on her position. She is now Client side and wants to stay there!
What they find when they become Clients often does not live up to the dream. They are at the bottom of the corporate totem pole and the real decision making power lies elsewhere, often with people who regard the advertising function with some disdain. So, instead of being able to give the Agency a firm “yes”, they find that they have to internally sell the Agency’s work to the powers that be. If decision makers like the work they will get credit for it. It they don’t, it is easy to blame the Agency.
Also, since they were hired from outside of the company and are not in the inner circle, they never want to be seen as “double agents” who are soft on the Agency. To counteract this perception, they will make sure that they are seen as very demanding with the Agency.
One additional issue can make this type of Client difficult top deal with.
Remember, they are now the “Client” (with a capital C!) and they are reluctant to let the Agency know that they don’t have much decision making power. To cover up this lack of power, they will seldom tell the Agency what really happened with the work and why it was not approved. They can be secretive and project that they are extremely busy with important “client” issues so they don’t have much time for more “trivial” Agency issues.
Deciphering the real concerns with the work can often be confusing and this leads to unnecessary rounds of re-work. This can create an environment with increased pressure and a difficult relationship.
So what is the best way to sell to them?
Since information flow is an issue, the Agency needs to make sure that they understand exactly what the Company’s business objectives and challenges are, and what they are trying to achieve. Once the Agency is clear on this, they can make sure that the work that is presented to the MarCom Client will pass the filters placed on it by the true decision makers. And in the presentation, they need to make it very clear exactly how the work delivers on these objectives, as these are the arguments that will be used by the MarCom person as she presents the work to the powers that be.
This will make the MarCom person look good within her Company. And when she looks good, the Agency will look good.
In the next installment we will talk about the Franchisee.