It's Really Hard To Get To Know An Agency Over Zoom

The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.

Brands and agencies have a problem: They’re strangers.

And that’s a big problem because at the end of the day, they’re in the business of relationships. The best work has always come from great partnerships and collaboration.

But a lot of brands are having to make a huge commitment to work with agencies based largely on a creds deck and Zoom meetings. That’s like picking your spouse from an Instagram profile. It doesn’t work because you only see the good stuff. 

Unfortunately, the getting-to-know-you process has been squeezed more and more over time, and the pandemic was the final blow to any real shot of brands and agencies having a chance to get to date first before marrying.

But just because everyone is remote -- or has a remote mindset -- doesn’t mean brands and agencies have to work with strangers.

We can’t go back to the old way of doing things



The pitch process used to be a great starting point, but the time and expense has made it outdated.  The six figures once spent on freelancers and dog and pony shows is not sustainable for modern agency-brand work. Replacing it with the check-the-boxes on this form and send a creds deck approach Isn’t going to work either.

But we have to do better than what we’re doing today

Brands need to know that in the inevitable circumstance when projects, budgets and research change everything you thought you were doing, someone has their back. And everyone needs to know who they’re going to be in the trenches with. Because it all blows up at some point -- and that’s when the people you hire -- more than the ideas and certainly more than a flashy creds decks – are the lynchpin.  You have to love the way an agency thinks, but you’d also better love the people who are thinking those thoughts.

Creating opportunities to date is the way forward

If great work is contingent on the people, then the entire process needs to be refocused on the people. 

Spending some time together or experiencing the natural ups and downs of a relationship through project work or trial periods before committing to longer-term relationships can be successful getting-to-know-you strategies.

In the end, a good relationship lets you be honest and straightforward. It removes the bullshit.  That’s where a great partnership starts. That’s good for the brands and good for the agencies too.

Here’s the bottom line: Breakthrough advertising, great brands and big transformations have always been inspired by the relationships underpinning them. To continue to deliver innovative, inspiring work, brands and agencies must evolve and proactively cultivate better ways of getting to know each other.

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