I’m often asked what, in my opinion, is the key ingredient to creating a great marketing program. My answer seems to surprise most people, not so much because they disagree, but because it’s an ingredient often overlooked.
I think they expect my answer to be one of the following:
a) rock-solid marketing intelligence, well researched facts and figures on which to base everything
b) a well thought-out strategy that is on target and incorporates relevance and value in the proposition
c) stand-out, attention-getting creative
d) or; developing, articulating, building equity in, and then defending from all foes, foreign and domestic, a brand for your company or product.
All of those things are important to creating a world-class marketing program. But from an advertising agency perspective, I think the single most important ingredient to a great marketing program is having a great client.
I can think of no ingredient I would rank as more important. Great clients allow great marketing programs to happen. Not-so-great clients invariably end up with not-so-great marketing programs and, because they are by their very nature not-so-great clients, they usually end up blaming their “not-so-great advertising agency” for the poor performance of their not-so-great marketing program.
So, what is a great client? From my perspective, first it’s a client who deeply appreciates the importance and incalculable value of good marketing to the success of a business. They get it. They know that marketing is an investment that should realize a good return and that great marketing usually produces great returns.
Next, they are a client who knows what they don’t know. They may be a great businessperson, but unless they’re also a great marketing person, they know they should leave those chores to people trained in the marketing disciplines. They seek out great marketing people and then trust them with the company’s marketing program. Are they totally detached from the marketing program? Of course not. They supply much needed C-level input, but in doing so, they also avoid screwing up good marketing ideas by imposing their power trips on the people responsible for producing marketing results.
And finally, they encourage and reward great thinking from their marketing people. This takes guts! Giving people who hail from a totally different side of the brain free rein to be inventive, creative and cutting edge with your marketing dollars is an act of courage that I have not often witnessed in my 40 years in the business.
But I have occasionally seen it. And it’s a beautiful thing to behold when it happens. It also invariably results in great marketing.
Great marketing starts with a great client. Period.
We’ve all worked with an endless list of not-so-great clients, but can anyone out there give me an “amen” on the joys of working with a great client?
Tags: advertising agency, appreciation, Bill Love, brand, branding, c-level, CEO, client, communication, creative, Des Moines Advertising agency, expectations, good clients, good marketing, great marketing, marketing, power trip, research, strategy