Clients Pay For Reaction, Not Proaction

Another week, another poll in Adweek that shows how agencies are lacking.

The complaints are all too familiar, but a new poll of client executives finds that agencies still aren’t proactive enough and need to make more of an effort to grasp the business challenges that clients face.
Asked to identify their top sources of frustration with agencies, the execs pointed to “more reactive than proactive” above all else, followed by “poor communication,” “not understanding our company’s business” and “insufficient creativity or originality.”
Among the words of advice they offered in response to another question were “act as a partner, not only a provider,” “try to become more knowledgeable about the product category than your client,” “talk less” and “make sure you have the required expertise in the industry that you care selling to.”

I’m not surprised. A few quick general thoughts:
1) Many agencies are only paid for the work they do, not for sitting around and thinking proactively on behalf of a client’s business. And unless a client has a flexible budget–which many don’t in this day and age–any “beyond the scope of the work” ideas won’t get considered or paid for.
2) How many agencies have full-time staff with the time to research an industry category or devote to new thinking for a client? Most agencies are thinly staffed–and If it’s not billable, it’s not gonna happen.
3) Even when they do have time, most agencies don’t place a high value on staff–whether it’s account, media, interactive, creative or whatever–that has the curiousity to think beyond whatever title’s on their business card or whatever job’s on their desk.
Now I’ve gotta get back to the work I’ve been assigned this Monday morning. Gotta react fast, the deadline is approaching.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.