The Agency Shift to Client Side: Thinking Like a Client [free full eBook edition within]

Ad executives thought I was nuts for going in the opposite direction when I left American Express to work for Ogilvy & Mather. I decided to leave a place where I owned ideas and evaluated pitches, had greater control of my work schedule, and garnered amazing benefits.

Advertising professionals work anywhere from 60 to 80 hours a week, according to AdAge. A plethora of “creatives” are actually freelancers who lack health care benefits—a trend that is rising, according to a 2012 AMR Salary survey. Plus, agency professionals only win 25% of the pitches they participate in on average, according to Tom Martin, a veteran agency salesman who wrote about ways to pitch using a client’s viewpoint for AdAge.

These three ad-agency happenings are only a handful of reasons why so many advertising executives are disgruntled about working in an agency and idealize working on the client side. However, I left the client side because I knew that to be a better client, I needed to learn about the agency structure and its processes. While that turned out to be true later in my career, my experience on both sides has enabled me to successfully coach clients who wanted to go in both directions (to or from the agency side; to or from a client organization), and I learned that the single best way to land a client role is to think and act like a client.  

Acting like a client requires you to broaden your thinking. Work beyond these presumptions: a) from marketing communications to more ways to impact sales or market-share growth, b) from direct competitors to those who sell to the same client or customer groups, and c) from your own assumptions about what it is like to work on the client side to how clients perceive advertising executives.

***The Reality***

“Take a step back and think about how clients spend their days. They’re probably not immersing themselves in the latest rad stuff on the Internet, nor are they spending a lot of time talking about cool ideas. Instead, they’re worried about their own priorities at their day jobs, like P&L, stock prices and having to deal with both retailers and consumers,” says Benjamin Palmer in an Adweek article entitled “Take a Walk on the Client Side.”

I.                    How to think beyond marketing communications

Clients usually turn to agency partners for innovative creative ideas such as insights regarding mobile marketing, fresh media partnerships and programs and/or ideas on how other clients are tackling similar communication challenges. Be distinctive and add more value. Take an interest in and learn about the business tools brand owners leverage beyond marketing communications. Some other “weapons” brand managers can use include trade promotions, prices, and the deployment of a direct sales force, according to Dina Gerdeman. In her article “Getting the Marketing Mix Right,” Gerdeman says the key to a client’s success is “crafting the right mix between them—the ideal brew needed to achieve sales and market share goals.” If you can broaden your thinking beyond marketing communications and tie your ideas to sales or market share growth, then your client will confide in you more often than your peers and she will think about you when a job opening becomes available in her organization.

The most effective way to begin stretching your perspective is to find out where your clients (and their bosses) are getting…[for more click below]

CLICK –> The Agency Shift to Client Side – Thinking Like a Client [PDF] by Melissa Llarena  to download – the teeny, tiny eBook by Melissa (the 6-page pdf is the full edition of this blog. The pdf includes specifics around building a business case to prove why you should be hired by a client and the #1 most common and effective way to approach devising a target company list of prospective client-side employers!)

Written by Melissa Llarena

Melissa Llarena is the founder of Career Outcomes Matter, a career coaching firm for executives who want make a professional leap now (not later), can handle the candid feedback that’s necessary to feel prepared for the toughest interviews, and are open to trying new ways that have been proven to speed up job searches. See how I tackle career challenges in multiple publications including The Huffington Post. Then set-up a 15-minute consultation to get started. New to coaching? Here are some FAQs.

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About Melissa

As a career coach, my plan is to share what I have learned from having: dissected 1,000+ performance evaluations, reported to 20+ bosses, lived in 7 zip codes, worked in 2 foreign countries, transitioned directly from financial services to advertising, started a career coaching firm as a newbie mom, coached lawyers that no longer desired to practice law, helped a plethora of clients with compelling raw materials yet lackluster interview performance skills, earned 2 full rides to top academic institutions, and left law school. View all posts by Melissa →

One Response to The Agency Shift to Client Side: Thinking Like a Client [free full eBook edition within]

  1. Nebojsa says:

    Good article! The situation is same in Europe. I just went from CMO position at big e-commerce company to CDO position in big agency (one of top 5) more or less for the same reasons

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