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Issue Date: May 2004

Appraising your ad agency

May 2004
Dean Herrick

My first appraisal back in the 1980s was quite an ordeal when our overseas-based client literally dissected the agency and my client service down to the smallest detail, independently of our management.

From dress code, (which was quite important to them), to the expected delivery of our service, my personal direction of the team, our attitude, daily/weekly input, status reports, our interpretation of their briefing sessions and the creative response, their strategic direction and much more. A lesson learnt? Absolutely.
It should be an annual occurrence with any client and their agency, no matter how large or small.
The daily interaction and relationship between a client and an agency rests firmly on the shoulders of management and more so with the agency's client service director, who in today's environment, needs to be extremely qualified and knowledgeable about the categories within advertising (another whole matter for discussion). Once a campaign, in terms of creative, media and other advertising aspects has been delivered and accepted by a client, this does not mean that those within the agency can sit back and relax.
Regular appraisals, that should be either six monthly or annual affairs, need to be agreed up-front by both parties in order that each understands the criteria and performance levels expected - goals must be set and achieved, otherwise a breakdown will be experienced, perhaps long before the pre-determined time set for such an appraisal, possibly resulting in an client/agency split.
Advertising is not a spend. It is an investment! Every investment needs constant watching and performance levels monitored, internally and externally and flags should be waved internally long before a client shoots a cannon ball across your bows. Improving relationships is an aspect that needs constant attention to detail and an agency should consistently assess ways in which these can be improved.
Measurable items such as awareness, perceptions and response are daily words used in our world, all of which must form part of an appraisal. Clients should insist on appraisals and they must become part of the norm in dealing with your communications professional, no matter how much the latter believes that personal relationships alone and great creative are the only measurements of success. Some FMCG companies measure their agency successes on a 1 to 3% increase in sales, so why should we be any different in whatever field we work within?
Facts are what judgments should be made upon, generating effective advertising and not necessarily on the client service manager's hairstyle or attitude (Although they are both important in the ladder of appraisals).
For more information contact Dean Herrick from Herrick Communication, 082 558 3722.

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