When Advertising is only a Marginal Factor in their Marketing Mix …

I avoid clients for whom advertising is only a marginal factor in their marketing mix. They have an awkward tendency to raid their advertising appropriations whenever they need cash for other purposes.  ~ David Ogilvy

Perhaps I was unfortunate to meet such clueless clients.

Advertising is seen as a marginal factor in their marketing mix. These people just do the bare minimum (from understanding their own product and market place to briefing and allocating marketing communication budget to folks like us) and then conveniently lay the blame on us when they do not receive massive returns. Sure, there are incidents where clients reap abundance for peanuts but that’s a rarity rather than a norm. If it were so easy, top companies wouldn’t pay big money for marketing research, creative, media planning, PR, etc! Unrealistic demands plus unrealistic expectations spell disaster to a fruitful working relationship. I can understand that all clients want us to create miracles for them. However, how to make solid, hardy bricks with a few straws? I’d be all ears if someone will teach me

These clients don’t really know which direction their company is headed and totally clueless of their SWOT against market competition. Sure, they produce lots of PowerPoint charts to tell their bosses what’s happening in the market place. Yet, they stop short of deciding the marketing direction they should sail to rise above the tide. They say to their bosses, “We’ll discuss with the agency”.

I suppose I ought to be appreciative and say “thank you” for their business. And, yes, I do appreciate the cheque when it comes in. However, I dd not like being the convenient scape goat. They are a conservative bunch who prefer to stick to whatever that were done previously. On top of that they have an equally conservative boss who is simply afraid to take baby steps into the new frontier. In the big corporate world, sticking your neck out could be equal to having your head on the chopping board when things go south. When everyone is moving towards online and mobile advertising, they adamantly stick to the traditional mode. They say no to online advertising, no to mobile advertising, no to social media marketing and rather lukewarm in making their website mobile compliant. Not that they have unshaken faith in traditional media, they are more afraid of doing the new things (which could be the wrong thing) and be blamed if results are lackluster. I’m certainly not against traditional marketing. In fact, I am still actively campaigning for it. LOL, we still encourage certain clients to adopt fax advertising as it does bring in results from some niches.

So, OK, we’ll stick to traditional media since our advice are not deemed appropriate. Like it or not, the client is the boss if we choose to keep the account.  While we do our best to work smart, and hard, on marketing traditional media, they decided that the economy hasn’t really recover from the heydays hence spending wisely is a must. Now, I agree with that. Investing wisely with whatever marcom budget a client has – lean or fat. You don’t necessarily have to borrow  money to market and promote your wares. Fighting guerrilla warfare when others are doing a full fledged war is certainly acceptable. Well, Mao won China. The Viets did not let the Americans have their way. However I cannot agree on cutting out copywriter to use their trashy ad copy. I’m not apologetic at all in calling their copy “trash” because that’s what it is.  And no, I cannot agree on repeating the same old TV commercial that’s has been aired for the last few years. Come on, that celebrity we used has aged just like all mortals. How can they say with conviction that their cream and potion are effective when I can see fish lines at the corner of the celebrity’s eyes now?

All I’m asking is for the client to do their homework and have the guts to take a stand. And we’ll do our best to get them the results they desire and make them look really cool before their bosses. When advertising is seen as a marginal factor in their marketing mix, when the agency is conveniently made a scapegoat, rest assured that the client will not smell as a rose either.

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