Many agencies tell me that relationships with clients often start with the marketing client coming to them stating that they need something specific, not that they are looking for a new marketing partner.

“I need a new website.”  “I need sales collateral materials.”  “I need to create an app.”

And I often hear these same agencies tell me that “yeah sure, they needed what they came asking for, but in the end, they needed a whole lot more.”

And while agency people are always often thinking about how they can bring in more business, I think they legitimately believed in each and every one of those cases, that what the marketing client needed was help on a bigger, more strategic level.

I’ve run agency searches where the marketer referred to what they were looking for as a “vendor”.  Not a good place to start a relationship.

I also know that the #1 reason why marketers change agencies is because of “lack of strategic thinking and leadership”.  This shows up on top in every annual survey we run among marketers and agencies.

So I realize I’m throwing a lot out at you here, but the point I’m trying to make is this:

If you’re looking for a new agency, looking for a smart thinking, thoughtful firm that can show you evidence of thinking and not just doing.  A firm that brings strategic talent to the table when they meet with you or present to you.  A firm that puts a plan together and has some grounded consumer insights that the plan was built up from.

I tell agencies all the time that they need to think of themselves as partners and not suppliers.

Agencies should exist to develop and execute create campaigns.  They should exist to help their clients build their business.

There’s a big difference and both agencies and marketers need to think in these terms if the relationship is going to a solid, successful long-term one AND if the marketer’s business is going to benefit from the effort.


Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.