Client Hot Seat: Takes one to know one

Date: 2010-04-21 20:43:40 // Categories: ROMI,
By: Chris Carroll
Date: 2010-04-21 20:43:40 // Categories: ROMI,

Been there. Done that. The hard truth is that every client, in every industry, in every sector is experiencing the “hot seat” – the time when results matter more than ever before and that the link between marketing investment and business return have been secured with cement. The harder truth is that few agencies, no matter what they may say, really get it. This is a perspective that has to change and I am committed to leading the charge.

I have spent my life working as a client – helping create a new category with Lenscrafters, helping battle a Goliath with Burger King and helping freshen the global face of fast food with Subway. Every single day, whether the markets were up or down, I felt the heat of what accountability really means. Not just trying to justify my efforts to a VP of marketing, but to global CFOs who did not have the slightest interest in where the best party was in Cannes. Rather than just being in the marketing business, that experience schooled me in the business of marketing. One thing I can say first hand is that unless you’ve been there, it is impossible to empathize.

I learned to expect more from agencies. Building brand intention meant nothing if it was not backed up by registers ringing at every single retail location. I learned a rule called “pay out or toss out” which set the standard that work had to drive results or it was not deemed good work no matter how brilliant people claimed it to be. I became undeniably aware that every single day in the retail world matters.


Perhaps that is why a study that will be released later this month reveals that 9 out of every 10 CMOs say their marketing is under intense financial scrutiny and that most view their agencies as part of the problem instead of the solution. ROI is the number one CMO priority and only 1 in 5 CMOs are really satisfied with their agency’s performance.

They say that the best agency leaders become the best clients. I believe the opposite to be true. The best clients can become the best agency leaders. I knew, though, that if I ever worked at an agency, it would have to be with a team that would breathe and bleed the way I have grown accustomed to. When I met Jordan Zimmerman and his team about five years ago, I said that is a team with whom I could do great work. I noticed that they saw beyond just branding and would work their fingers off to make their clients successful.

Since I joined the Zimmerman team as EVP, Chief Client Officer, my priority is to help the agency continue to build National retail brands and help clients find new levels of success – especially when their seats are getting awfully hot.

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