Only Trust Professionals - and Other Lessons From the NFL
I'm not even a big football fan, but I could certainly relate to the pain felt by the Saints when that last minute touchdown call was ruled against them. Of course the problem was with the inexperienced referees, called in when the professionals went out on strike.
The same blame game is used when a direct marketing campaign goes awry. The client's pointing its finger at the agency for its work/ideas, while the agency's pointing its finger at the client for its direction/changes.
A successful direct marketing campaign is comprised of many complex facets—and it takes knowledge, experience and expertise to execute it flawlessly.
Despite the fact that many agencies claim complete integration and global knowledge, the reality is they often talk a good strategic game, but when handed a DM assignment, the executional details are left to the inexperienced.
I've received several calls recently from colleagues who want me to "help their agency" with the direct mail portion of a campaign. Not the strategy or the creative (their agency won't let anyone touch that golden egg), but the list. It seems the agency doesn't know the first thing about lists ... and had been trying to sell the client something found on the internet from an unknown supplier.
That's like asking the NFL referee to make the call on the Saints interference, but not on the Seahawks touchdown. The two are inexplicably entwined.
So I am asking, no begging, that clients identify and leverage agency partners based on their specialty. Spend your time understanding what skills are truly in the agency's wheelhouse—and not a "sure, we can do that too!" skill. If the agency specializes in branding, then that's what they're probably very, very good at ... and if it specializes in digital marketing (kind of a broad skill, but whatever), then ask them for help with your digital needs.