We Don’t Talk Anymore


It can’t be easy being a digital marketer.

For starters you’re probably seriously under-invested in as an individual. I don’t mean in pay and rewards but in training and development. It takes a lot of personal effort to ensure you’re as up to date as you can be with current thinking, trends and practices. With cost scrutiny and return on investment metrics at the top of all agendas, spend on courses, conferences or qualifications is not likely to feature highly.

So you must feel a tad vulnerable when the world you face off to is highly complex and changing at a pace of knots. No sooner have you tried to conquer one subject (content strategy) but you have to push onto the next (data modelling).

And with the organisational changes and power struggles internally (“hey customer experience is mine!”) then you may find yourself turning to an agency for some help.

The agency puzzle


Even that is a minefield.

You know how to run the process of course but choosing your agencies is not the task it once was. Some of my favourite descriptions (just looking at those in our immediate vicinity include “we exist to create the future.” “we’re here, there and everywhere.” And “ideas without limits.” And these are from three agencies I have enormous respect for. So I guess the first problem is working out who does similar stuff – that’s my layperson way of saying trying to put like for like agencies together onto a list.

Oh yes, and you’ll not have time to talk to them in person. You’ll do some online research. Or communicate at Procurement stage. Shame, as talking would probably give you an immediate sense of what any agency are like.

Window shopping

I always hope there’s time for a chemistry session. Getting in a room saves a lot of time. Especially if it’s one of our rooms and you can see where we live. You’ll never really know us from a written response. I’ve often said it before ‘chemistry’ is the wrong name. It’s ‘physics’ – it’s the laws of attraction. Or actually its ‘biology’ – does your pulse increase because we’re exciting to you. If we can talk and get some dialogue going you’ll see how we think on our feet, how we interact with each other, how we interact with you. So make it a talking shop (the positive kind) and not a window shop (the credentials kind).


But often it’s the RFP. A necessary evil. And I understand you need to run an open process. You have to spend money sensibly. You need to make it fair. But so often it isn’t actually fair. It’s flawed in many ways. A recent example is where we lost by one mark because the client didn’t build in any time for clarification after the bids were submitted. One quick call would have given them the answer they needed. But instead we came second. And that is worse than coming last.

Embrace the humble conversation

Personally I’d like a process where it’s all about talk. Where the start is you calling up our clients and asking them upfront what we’re like. Just get it direct. Unedited. Not a formal reference but a “tell me what they’re like – good and bad.” If we’re doing our job properly we have nothing to fear in that respect.


Good conversation – and the art of – is something we need to encourage in business. Healthy dialogue.  Lively exchanges.  They reveal the true substance of a person, or an agency – core beliefs and values, attitudes and behaviours.  We are so much more than a list of services, a set of client logos or a series of relevant case studies. We are people. We are human. Just as your customers are too.

Start a conversation today that matters. 


Fiona Proudler