Agency owners and staff alike have been complaining to us for several years about the growing number of clients – including existing clients – who insist on employing the agency as needed, rather than maintaining a long-term working relationship. In other words, using the agency as a temporary source of specified services, rather than as a valued advisor.
If you’re tired of jumping through purchasing department hoops or being one of many agencies at the table — there’s a way out. This doesn’t have to happen to you. But you need to be willing to make sue changes. It’s time to start acting like an advisor and resist being mistaken for a vendor.
How many times have you heard that if you look like a duck, act like a duck, etc., people will treat you like a duck? Maybe it’s time for us to stop walking around, quacking!
There are three key reasons why agencies are being treated like vendors today – one largely beyond your control and the others totally within you control.
What you can’t control
The reason that’s largely beyond your control is what’s happening in businesses today. Many of them are experiencing workforce reductions and cost cutting because of the economy’s ongoing struggles. Unless you have a magic bullet for the economy — you’re going to have to find work arounds for this challenge.
What you can control
The reasons totally within your control are the willingness of agencies eager for income to behave like transient vendors, rather than being and presenting themselves as valuable long term advisors.
The second reason that your agency gets stuck in vendor mode is that agencies have been hiring “nice” account managers whose focus in on relationships and either don’t have a strong business acumen or they don’t know how to talk business with their clients. Agencies have hired order-takers and got what they deserved.
In the next couple posts — we’re going to examine what you can do to work around the economic reality we’re all dealing with and change those elements you do have control over.
We’d love to hear some success stories of how you evolved a client relationship from vendor status to a relationship where you’re invited to sit at the strategy table.