Are we fighting? Creating unity between marketers and agencies

Category: Agency Life

April 08, 2024 / Miles Marmo

Are we fighting? Creating unity between marketers and agencies

Let's get back to doing good work

Recently there has been a surplus of people writing about the disparities between marketers and their agency partners – from short rants and raves on LinkedIn to full-on editorial pieces. At a broad stroke, they all say the same thing: one side is in the wrong, one side is in the right, and they don’t understand why the contradicting side can’t see their truth.

The landscape for agencies and marketers is tough right now. Marketer tenure is at an all-time low, as brand building has come under more scrutiny with short-sighted wins overshadowing healthy brand growth. Executive teams don’t understand the complexities of today’s communication landscape, with over 50% of CEOs saying they’re not comfortable with modern marketing (and nearly 66% of CMOs saying CEOs don’t understand their job roles).

Dig deeper and you’ll find disconnected executives unfamiliar with the role that marketing, and its respective team, play in the overall business. Not to mention marketing leaders are expected to be subject matter experts in a world that moves faster than most brands can adapt. It’s a world where longevity doesn’t necessarily mean expertise.

On the agency side, more and more agencies pop up every day, based on their creative “big-idea” chops, not communication strategy, segmentation targeting, or basic business-building acumen. This creates a gap between client needs and effective agency support. It begs the question: why are we at odds with one another instead of trying to address the issues and fix them?

At Agency Squid, we begin every client partnership with the premise that “we are not here to tell you how to run your business. You are your brand experts. You concepted it. You birthed it. Now we’re here to help you build it. We believe that wholeheartedly. We are the communication experts who connect brand messages to receptive audiences. And the only way we’re able to find real success is when our clients know their goals and provide their important input along the way. The two need each other. And without either half, the work is half as impactful.

The role of an agency is to support our clients and make them successful. That’s what we’re hired to do. But that doesn’t mean agencies should sacrifice who they are and their expertise. Steve Boehler of Mercer Island Group recently shared a post titled “Clear philosophies help marketers and agency execs succeed” which gives insight into agencies who provide strong, clear, beliefs and values to help set the stage for their client relationships. It provides a strong point of view on how an agency works, what excites them, and how clients will get the best from them.

From the client side, Jim Cuene recently wrote a piece titled “Want breakthrough work? Be a better client.” Agency/Brand relationships are not a one-way street. And the ones that are treated in a transactional manner are the ones that typically see the highest turnover. But Jim sets the stage well regarding how brands can get the most out of their agency partners. From being upfront about the business to communication and transparency, even championing the work, are all great elements that give agencies a reason to run through a brick wall for the work.

Instead of perpetuating the divide between brands and agencies, we need to all get on the same page and understand that we are only as good as the other side. That doesn’t mean it’s all rainbows and butterflies, but it does require mutual respect from both sides to bring the best work to life while enjoying what we do. We all want to be proud of what we’re creating, and we all need to get results. And the way we see it at Agency Squid, it only happens when we’re both bringing our best selves to the project and have each other’s backs through the process.