How to save money with your agencies (it’s not what you think).

One of the biggest challenges with marketers trying to save money – whether it’s with their agencies or not – is how to save money without eroding value. 

Done wrong, the consequences can be disastrous.  Marketers can limit their marketing efforts, diminish value from their media dollars, upset long-standing agency relationships, squeeze profit margins too hard and erode the level of quality resources on their businesses.

Done right, marketers can save money and improve value to the services their paying for.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  But actually, it’s surprisingly simple if you follow the simple adage, “accentuate the positive – eliminate the negative…” In other words, eliminate, address and fix the stuff that’s not working or eroding value and leverage the positive assets your agency(s) are bringing to the table.

Here are ten ways to save money and potentially increase value in the process:

Treat your agency as partners

Step one is to treat your agency as a partner and ensure the relationship is set up as a win-win for both you and your agency. Agency relationships that are out of balance won’t yield long-term great work.  And while you think you’re getting a good deal, you could potentially increase agency output if they were remunerated fairly.  

Know your agency

Understanding your agency’s strengths and weaknesses can save you (and your agency) wasted time and money.  By understanding and focusing on your agency(s) strengths and reassigning areas where the agency struggles, will help you stop spinning your wheels and get traction faster and with less cost.

Know your own organization

Sure, it’s important to understand your agency – but what’s your own marketing team good at?  Where are their weaknesses?  How can they improve to help streamline process, reduce duplication, misunderstanding and / or cost? 

Fix it – don’t chuck it

While it may be tempting to switch agencies because the grass looks greener elsewhere, it’s frequently faster, cheaper and ultimately more rewarding, to address and make every effort to fix issues first.  The repair efforts may help identify issues within your own organization that have become barriers to success – saving you time and the expense and disruption of an agency search.

Know what things cost

If you’re suffering from sticker shock with your agency, it’s probably worth doing a benchmarking exercise to understand what fair market rates are. The results will enable you to effectively renegotiate with your agency or adjust your requirements and expectations in-line with your budget.

Align agencies for best results

With multiple agencies on your roster, it’s important to ensure each agency is clear about the mandate it’s been assigned and understands where the boundaries are.  Aligning agency resources will maximize value from each agency and eliminate wastage or duplication of effort.

Ensure collaboration

Are your agencies working together or are they fighting for dollars within your marketing budget?  An aligned agency roster is one thing, but creating and then expecting a culture of collaboration is vital to ensure the best ideas bubble to the fore – no matter where they come from.

Incentivize properly

How are you incentivizing your agency(s) for maximum value? Does the agency understand which metrics they should be focused on that will make the most difference to your business? Incentivizing against the right metrics with a meaningful and rewarding upside will naturally help drive value on both sides.

Dust off the contract

When was the last time you reviewed your agency contract – does it even reflect the services your agency is providing today?  Revisiting your agency contract and aligning it to a current scope of work will help define or redefine a meaningful remuneration structure.

Don’t know?  Then ask

If your agency relationship isn’t working as well as you’d like but you’re not sure why – then do an agency health check with your team to find out what’s not working and where improvements can be made for greatest efficiency and better value.

Proactive agency management leads to stronger agency relationships that are more finely tuned to your organization’s requirements. In turn, dollars are applied more effectively and wastage or duplication of effort is greatly reduced.

What steps can you take to proactively manage your agency relationship to reduce costs and increase value from your marketing dollars? And how can we help? 


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: bradleypjohnson
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