Shrinking the elephant with agency evaluation

When it comes to client / agency management, Benjamin Franklin’s axiom, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is something both marketers and their agencies should keep top of mind to help maximize their agency relationships and performance.

Every business relationship needs a 360 review to help evaluate performance and understand how relationships are or aren’t working.  And marketers need to be thinking about 360 reviews with all their agencies on a regular basis to course correct and – most importantly – take on feedback from agency partners.

If you think your agency is doing a great job or that you’re a model client and your client or agency counterparts thing differently – you’re likely heading for the rocks.  Problems can grow, and if left unaddressed, well, the elephant…

The elephant gets bigger

Whether you’re trying to deal with an ‘elephant in the room‘ problem or constructively air issues that are potentially disrupting a relationship, a structured 360 evaluation is the best way to get issues openly addressed.  Not doing so allows the elephant to dominate day-to-day business issues and distract the team from what’s really important.

Lack of focus

Not reviewing performance regularly will ultimately weaken focus and cause the relationship to become strained. Knowing a client will be conducting structured performance evaluations based on defined criteria will help the agency keep their eye on what’s been defined as important in the relationship.

Weakens relationships

As with any relationship, unless you talk, the relationship will quickly head south. Evaluation can actually help strengthen relationships providing the evaluation offers the opportunity for all parties to provide honest input without fear of being penalized.

Weakens team morale

If issues are allowed to fester, team morale will begin to decay. But by creating the forum for feedback for both agency and marketer teams, executive management can help their teams learn, grow and become stronger marketers by taking on constructive feedback regularly.

Fast track to an agency review

However well managed, agency reviews can be time consuming and disruptive. Neither marketers nor agencies want an agency review unless all other options have been explored. By contrast, 360 reviews can be scheduled into the normal operations of any agency / client relationship and provide early warning signs of challenges that may later lead to an agency review if left unresolved.

Meetings without coffee and cookies

Nobody wants to be called to a meeting without coffee and cookies (or worse, a breakfast…) only to be pinned into a discussion about issues that could have been explored and resolved through a 360 evaluation. Agencies should welcome 360 evaluations to provide thoughtful feedback and marketers should proactively initiate 360 evaluations to provide helpful direction.

No bonus (because I say so)

Nobody wants to give or receive that feedback. But structured 360 evaluations that create the forum for defined performance criteria can take the discussion out of the subjective into the realm of fact-based performance and clearly defined KPIs that trigger bonus or PBR payments.

Bottom line:  Initiate regular 360 reviews. Take feedback seriously and make necessary adjustments. For more on 360 agency evaluations contact us and prevent your own elephants from getting bigger.

STEPHAN ARGENT

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: Sérgio Bernardino

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