One of things that we hear often from clients who use a roster of agencies is that “my account manager at my other agency seems to change by the month, it was OK to start but then my main contact left and the next three people over the year were awful”.
Which leads us to consider what the implications might be for the client and their brand when an agency suffers high staff turnover? There is little doubt that clients continue to use agencies beyond the first “challenge” they were tasked with, because a professional bond of trust is developed. The client knows that when their agency is briefed on a project, they will deliver the project on time, on brief and on budget… let’s face it, those are the “must haves”.
But over time, something else happens. A good agency should really get under the skin of their client’s brand and begin to challenge assumptions that the client may have developed, as a result of internal politics or lack of impartiality, for example. In other words, a good agency should use the knowledge they have gained about their client and their customers, to help their client keep a fresh perspective.
When an agency experiences high staff turnover, the knowledge and expertise is never built up and retained, meaning that a client never reaches the point where they are getting that added value from their agency.
This isn’t just the case for client facing staff but throughout the entire agency. A designer who has spent years working with a particular brand will not only know the brand guidelines inside out but could also be an expert with a client’s in-depth, highly technical product information. In some cases where there is high staff turnover client side, the agency could be more familiar with a brand and products than the client themselves. We have worked with one of our clients for over 17 years, our senior designer has worked with us for 29 years…. he lives and breathes that brand and can solve a design challenge far more quickly and therefore cost effectively, as a direct result of the years he has spent understanding and challenging that brand.
But wait! We hear again and again that clients like to change agencies every couple of years because their current agency lacks new ideas or runs out of steam. So how do you as a client ensure that you retain all the knowledge built up over the years and still keep it fresh? Well it’s a bit like a great marriage. With the years together you build up a deep level of trust and understanding but you also need to keep challenging each other. The tendency can be that just because you’ve been working with your agency for a long time and they know you inside out, that you don’t need to invest as much time involving them in your business, as you would with a new agency. However, an agency needs to know about the overall business challenges their client is facing, not just the project that they are being tasked with. Quarterly brand-storming sessions which involve the client and multiple job functions within the agency are a terrific way of keeping the lines of communication open, giving the brand room to breathe and for the ideas to flow.
So when choosing your agency, it’s worth asking the question about staff turnover or average length of service. An agency that invests in staff who work hard and intelligently will keep a brand fresh and their clients happy. Don’t forget too that an agency with a high referral and recommendation history is likely to be that hidden gem you’ve been searching for.
At Earl & Thompson Marketing we believe that our great people help to make our clients successful. With an average length of service at nearly 12 years and a client referral and recommendation rate of 90%, our people know what it takes to protect and give new life to your brand.