The column below originally appeared at AdAge.com. Scan it quickly and read the MultiCultClassics perspective immediately following…
Clients, Let Agencies Be Part of the Hiring Process
Getting Your Shop More Involved Can Help You Win Customers
By Brian Brooker
Attract and retain customers. That’s what advertising agencies get paid to do. But since the economy took a tumble, everything changed. Today, clients should be asking more of their agencies. The key to getting more output is letting your ad agency play a bigger role in all aspects of the organization that impact the customer experience.
Let’s start with your employees.
If you want to ensure your ad agency attracts and retains customers, it starts with the front line—those people with whom your customers come in contact daily. In an instant, your employees can turn off new customers or turn away loyal ones. Allow your ad agency to be involved in every aspect of the hiring process, from targeting and acquiring new employees, nurturing them to maximize retention, and even determining when they are no longer a fit through ongoing customer evaluation.
The people you hire are your brand ambassadors. It’s critically important that they know and reflect your brand and give your customers the ultimate brand experience. Your ad agency can indoctrinate them by developing a brand kit that communicates point of difference, brand voice as well as advertising materials. They can also aid in training your employees in every facet of store experience, from customer greeting to customer check-out.
And that’s just scratching the surface. The better your employee base, the better product and service you can offer your customers. For one of our clients, we put on an internal competition that rewarded the best employees based on their ability to provide the optimal experience. The competition, which is as fun as the brand, takes place across the country. The best of the best are recognized at the annual sales convention. The employees feel a sense of pride and purpose that translates into satisfied customers.
Now, on to the customer experience.
The more your agency becomes immersed in aspects of your business beyond marketing and advertising, the more they can help you. Widen their scope. The agency should be involved in managing every contact point, from the time your customer leaves his car, sits at his laptop and turns on his cellphone, all the way to the consumption of the experience/product/service. Yes, you hired your agency to deliver a marketing plan. But consider: If you are a retail brand, why not involve your agency in designing the façade of the store, the floor plan, the product display, the furniture, the lighting and the music? It’s at the store level that the brand promise becomes real. Your ad agency can build that bridge from communications to store experience.
You can navigate a tough economy by leaving no stone unturned and by not trying to do it all by yourself. Your ad agency will welcome a chance to get immersed in marketing minutiae. It may not be as glamorous as producing a Super Bowl spot, but if they are trusted partners, they are well aware that it’s the details that count.
Why should you include them? Because your ad agency knows your customers and they know your brand. Include them because they know what your customers want and how they think. Include them because they can help you complete the sales loop in a way that keeps your customers coming back.
About The Author
Brian Brooker is chief idea officer of Barkley, Kansas City, Mo. Clients include Sonic Drive-In and Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Um, is the author of this column aware that the advertising industry is renowned for doing an abysmal job when it comes to hiring—and Madison Avenue is likely facing a class-action lawsuit for institutionalized discrimination in recruiting and retention practices?
Or better yet, forget the bias and racism infesting our business. Let’s consider the corrupt leadership, outdated business models, inability to change with the times, illegal billing and other instances of criminal bookkeeping.
This column—while perhaps typed with the best of intentions—demonstrates quite clearly the ignorance and arrogance crippling our industry. Allowing Mad Men to influence clients’ employment decisions is like inviting Minutemen to Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
Should advertisers let advertising agencies be involved in the hiring process? Hell, ad executives can barely handle the advertising process.