What irritates clients (and their agencies) most?

If you’ve ever had your home renovated – or at least had builders trampling through your front door – you’ll likely know how frustrating renovations can be. I speak from experience. And despite the most meticulous planning you’ve likely found yourself intensely irritated by some fundamental problems that can cause some very heated friction between you and your chosen contractor.

Interestingly, I suspect it’s likely the same underlying issues that irritate both marketers and their agencies:

Start late / deliver late

When a project if briefed or starts late, it stands to reason the rest of it is likely going to be late, or rushed, or both.  And from an agency perspective a delay in one project can often lead to a delay or impact another initiative that’s in the works.  

Budget allocation and management

With marketers facing intense scrutiny on budget allocation and potential evaluation on their ability to manage budgets – agencies need to take time to estimate, budget and manage accordingly.  The flip side is that marketers need to understand what things really cost and ensure sufficient budget is assigned from the get-go.

Broken promises

If you make a promise – keep it.  Or, if you don’t know – just say so and then go find the answer.  Intense friction, frustration and mistrust can be generated when a promise or assurance is given, only for it to be reneged on later. This applies to both clients and agencies: If you can’t keep it – don’t promise it.

Unwelcome surprises

In today’s complex world of collaboration, integration and multi-channel communication, shifts in projects are sometimes unavoidable. But the sooner you communicate a change in anticipated budget, scope, timing, cost, the better for everyone concerned.

Weak project management

Over the years, I’ve sometimes underestimated the value of thorough and experienced project management – to our cost. Rigorous project management can often alleviate potential irritations before they start. Cutting corners in quality project management almost always creates more problems than anticipated savings generated on paper.

Any of this sound familiar? 

Whether a marketer, an agency – or indeed having your house renovated – most irritations can be avoided if they’re started on time, funded and managed properly, and unforeseen issues are managed quickly and transparently.

In a complex world, yes, it really is that simple.


Stephan Argent is Founder and Principal at Listenmore Inc  offering confidential advisory to marketers looking for truly independent insight and advice they can’t find anywhere else. Read more like this on our blog Marketing Unscrewed / follow me @StephanArgent

Photo: Bruce Denis
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