Clients Get The Agencies They Deserve

Posted 7th May 2019

Good clients drive better performance from their agencies. Conversely, bad clients get below average performance from their agencies.

Over 50 years ago, David Ogilvy famously said that “clients get the advertising they deserve”. This has now been validated by our analysis of over 20,000 client-agency relationships which has shown that agency performance is highly dependent on client performance.

The knowledge and data we have gathered proves statistically what we all know instinctively. Every time a client team improves, it is more than 99 per cent likely that the agency team will improve too. And the reverse is also true. The agency-client relationship is highly interdependent. In effect, this is saying that the good performance of the client is absolutely essential to maximise agency output.

The chart to the right plots the result of over 17,000 evaluations we have conducted. This compares the scores given by marketers of their agencies and by agencies of their clients in each of those evaluations. The clustering of these scores around the trend line proves two hypotheses – with 99.99% accuracy;

  1. There is a clear interdependence between the performance of marketing teams and their agencies and
  2. As one gets better, the other gets better. The converse is also true.
Client-agency relationship performance

Clients get the agencies they deserve

Further analysis reveals that the best agency performance occurs when that of the client is optimal in four areas, namely;

  • Approval
  • Briefing
  • Timing
  • Behaviour

When the client’s performance is strong in these areas, agency output is judged by clients to be +37% better than it is in agencies with poorly performing clients. For clients to maximise the value of the billions of dollars they spend on marketing communications they must first find out their own capabilities and shortcomings.

” Agency output is judged by clients to be +37% better “

At a bare minimum, clients need to employ a two-way evaluation process. Calibrating the data from this evaluation against large externally benchmarked datasets can highlight client strengths and deficiencies.

Regular measurement will allow clients to track their progress against any highlighted actions that need to be taken.

We need to think about what both agencies and marketing companies can do to achieve happier, more productive working lives. But to get to some workable solutions, we need to reflect on the context.