Owner/Founder at Alchemy Insights
Website Address: www.alchemyinsights.com
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that over 50 percent of advertising clients are planning to make a change in their agency relationships at some point in the next year. Yet the ANA is saying that over 85 percent of those same agencies, I’m assuming being surveyed, are happy with their current relationship. How do you compare, contrast, and explain the difference in the Wall Street Journal and The ANA’s data when it comes to this?
Yeah it’s interesting. So for me, it demonstrates that the system is broken. First of all, you have over 50 percent of clients that are wanting to change their agencies in the next 12 months. So if you had a plumber or an electrician or a mechanic that had a 50 percent success rate in working on your car or on your house, they wouldn’t be in business for very long. So it’s either the clients are not very good at managing their agencies or the agencies are not very good at being able to manage their clients with a 50 percent failure rate. So then you have the fact that they publicly will disclose that they are actually happy with their agency relationships. So there’s that disparity there that to me demonstrates that, something that we’re not surprised about in this business, and that is that people don’t necessarily speak their minds. They don’t necessarily say exactly how they feel. They don’t necessarily do exactly what they say. So we need to look at a different way of being able to get in sync with our clients because the traditional methods that we’ve been using up until now have been letting us down.
So how do you address this? What solutions do you recommend? And how does Alchemy Insights fit in to help mitigate this and manage this difficult process?
Well I use a technique called alignment science. So it’s based on the thinking of Thomas Schelling who won the Nobel Prize in 2005 for his work on like-mindedness and also the work of Professor Chris Argyris out of Harvard. So if you blend those two schools of thought together, you get alignment science. Alignment science relies on the assumption that people don’t always say what they mean or truly feel, and you need to create a way to be able to get to the truth. So alignment science works on not asking questions in like a survey form or in a conversation or or body language or things like that, alignment science relies on opinion statements. And if you can get the right opinions framed in the right framework or sequence, you can then get a good understanding of the true nature of the sentiment behind those opinions. So you can get much more accurate data coming through to you than through these traditional type of methods. Like, most of us have been engaged in some kind of agency evaluation surveys or reviews, and we’re asked certain questions and the questions are either very stilted, very sort of unnatural, and we do our best to give honest expressions of those answers but it doesn’t really capture the true sentiment behind how we truly feel. And agencies have a tendency to just go through the motions of these things just to pick up their bonus check at the end of the day, and clients then sort of give the reports back to the agency and say, “look you guys have done pretty good but you must try a little bit harder in these areas” and everybody goes back to doing things exactly the same way that they did before.
Do you come in and teach people how to do this from an agency perspective with creative minds out there or do you facilitate these meetings yourself?
I give the tools to be able to do this. So it’s collecting the right opinions and the analysis of the data around those opinions and then the facilitation that then happens. As much as possible, I try to get the agencies and the clients to work that out themselves. You don’t want some stranger to come into the midst to try and mitigate the circumstances. What I do is I try to give a very exacting, very tight brief to both parties on what they need to do to be able to resolve their differences of opinions. And it’s usually opinions on, like, what great work looks like or what value looks like or what we want the advertising to do. So if we can resolve and align everybody around what we’re aiming for and give a good tight brief for the group to be able to do that, usually in this business people are smart enough to be able to work that out. So I try and sort of do it as much of a hands off approach as possible.
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