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Substance Over Showbiz

Substance Over Showbiz
Republic of Media's Claire Mathieson shares her key takeaways from Jill Walker's Substance over Showbiz breakfast.

On the 2nd June, Jill Walker hosted the third Account Management Breakfast of the year at The Union.

She has over 20 years' experience in marketing and communications, having co-founded the Edinburgh-based agency, Family, and now as the Head of Health Marketing and Deputy Chief Marketing Officer at the Scottish Government. This wealth of experience formed the topic of her talk, ‘Substance Over Showbiz’.

The main focus of the event was how agency and client relationships work when it comes to sharing ideas. Jill's first piece of advice was that if you get the chance, work for a client. Ideally for 2 years but even 6 weeks can make a difference to how you look after your agency clients and understanding their needs.

The main section of her talk focused on the typical responses to certain scenarios. For example:

Your agency have developed what they think is a really strong idea and are very excited about it. When presented to the client, the idea bombs. The client doesn’t think it’s on brief, or appropriate for their organisation. What do you do?

  1. No question about, I need to be loyal to the agency. The creatives will kill me if I don’t stick up for the idea. You try to persuade the client to run the idea.

  2. You sympathise with your client and agree with their point of view. You and the client have a bonding moment and you agree to go back to the agency and re-brief.

  3. You stay on the fence and say you can see things from both points of view. You offer a compromise which involves toning down the idea a bit.

But what if none of those options are right? This is Jill’s key point. As agencies, we need to be able to think outside the box and come up with solutions to suit both the client and ourselves. Here are some other options:

  1. Offer to test the concept
  2. Look for relevant reference material
  3. Look at other options for the client to compare

In summary, Jill supplied what you could say were the 10 commandments of ‘Getting the most of out the relationship – the (good) client perspective’

  • Instil a spirit of partnership in the relationship
  • Establish clear expectations
  • Provide an effective brief
  • Treat the agency people well
  • Keep the approval process simple
  • Establish clear paths for integration
  • Regularly schedule assessment and evaluate progress
  • Make sure the agency makes a decent profit
  • Be realistic about your expectations
  • Remain open minded

Here are her 9 commandments of ‘Getting the most of out the relationship – the (good) agency perspective’

  • Don’t aim to please, impress or outperform. Aim to inspire.
  • Invest in the work that will make the difference
  • Listen, listen, listen
  • Take a breath
  • Be consistent
  • Be honest and open
  • Know your stuff
  • If you don’t know, say so
  • If you’ve messed up, fess up

We were then left with a challenge, one I am admittedly yet to try - how would you describe your work-self? Now ask your clients if they would concur?

This question is the essence of Jill’s entire talk. Are we all working hard enough and delivering a service of a high enough standard? Can we do more? From Jill’s experience, a high level of service will not only benefit the client and help you retain their business, it will also help make processes easier for the agency.

Last updated 10/06/2016

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