Why choosing a good agency is like choosing a good plumber…

When you need a plumber – who do you call? Probably not Ghostbusters (am I showing my age?)…but probably the last person you know that ended up with water in places it shouldn’t have been.

The plumbing industry is a bit  like the marketing industry – very few barriers to entry – and a monstrous variety of quality, skill, price and scale. Although white vans tend to be a lot less prevalent in marketing.

There are also lots of stories of being charged too much for too little, or for shoddy workmanship – and plumbing can be pretty ropey too.

When choosing a plumber, your needs are the same as from a good agency:

– prove to me you’ve achieved my objective

– challenge me if I’ve told you to do something that will undermine my objectives

– suggest things that I might not have thought of – after all, you’re the expert

– sort what needs sorting in the way that is suitable for my particular problem, not just what you know what to do

So, when I need a plumber, I talk to people with values and plumbing issues similar to mine and find out who they rave about.

What I find interesting during the marketing selection process are two common things:

1. Nobody ever takes us up on the offer of chatting with one of our customers – nope, not one (although I like to think this is because they are bowled over by our charm and expertise)

2. We often get push back on reducing planning and briefing time (bit like giving the house keys to the plumber, no instructions, and uttering the words “off you go – do what you will!”)

So, you know what to do, next time you need a plumber, write up a brief and invite six of them in to explain how they will fix the problem, and next time you need an agency, ask someone you respect for their opinion and talk to the agency’s customers.

About the Author

Charlotte Graham-Cumming

Director, Ice Blue Sky Ltd

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