Monday, October 19, 2009

Great Expectations - we all have them!

The following excerpt is taken from an article that appears in MediaPost's Marketing Daily on October 19, 2009

According to the Random House dictionary, we've been having expectations since around 1540, give or take a few years.

The noun, ex•pec•ta•tion [ek-spek-tey-shuhn], has a number of meanings -- but I'm most partial to the following, especially when used in reference to the start of a new agency/client relationship:

Often, expectations. a prospect of future good or profit: to have great expectations.


Being responsible for new business retention, I can spend several months courting and cajoling a prospective client. During that time, I'll have to prove to the CEO and CMO that my agency is capable of representing Brand X, that we truly get their message and value proposition, and can launch impactful PR campaigns that produce great outcomes -- not just "outputs" -- on ever-shrinking budgets. We'll have to jump through countless hoops and hold conference calls until the contract is signed, and then we're expected to be off and pitching posthaste!

Except there's one important thing missing from the above. An outline of expectations. Not from the client, but from us.

I've actually given it a name: "Statement of Expectations". It sounds rather arrogant at first, but it's become absolutely necessary when taking on new clients in our age of "great expectations."

Why? Because clients expect a great many things from our agencies -- PR, ad, creative, we're all in the same boat -- but in many cases they can't or don't communicate precisely what their expectations and needs are. And left to chance, in an economic climate that's so highly strung, the smallest mistake or misunderstanding can become the impetus for losing a client.

So rather than taking that chance, why not spell it out for our clients beforehand? If we did that more often, perhaps we'd have more fulfilling agency/client relationships -- more clients for longer, as well as staff who felt more respected and appreciated, and overall, a stronger agency brand.

Sounds pretty good to me.

So next time you're about to jump into bed with a new client, ask yourself if you're ready to wake up next to them every day. On second thought, don't. But you should be asking a great many things....

Like what? Read the entire article at MediaPost

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