OPINION: Time to end the madness

Meg Gossert
By Meg Gossert | 14 May 2012
Meg Gossert.

It is indeed an absolute fact that in the last two years, the large media agencies have operated with a squash or kill attitude when it comes to the processes they use to win new business.

Having been in this industry for 50 years and running my current business for 25 years, as a small boutique agency we have suffered the onslaught of the large companies targeting our clients and agreeing to work for them at remuneration packages that are just not profitable.

A client we held for 15 years left our doors for a cheaper offer and their experience saw them re-pitch their business in less than two years. The client experienced junior staff, no strategic input, mismanagement of their business and very poor service, yet having had a media agency agree to work on their business at an unprofitable margin, the client now expects to get better service elsewhere for the same price. It’s not worth it.

The industry has imploded on itself. The profits made by the larger agencies often eventuate through unethical practices, the inevitable slush fund of ‘overs and unders’, working their junior and inexperienced staff to exhaustion (for little money) and burning the client.

Wake up, people! This business is not about cutting margins. This business is not about who can offer the cheapest service. It’s about delivering value to your clients. Value not just in price, but service, strategy, honesty and above all, building a trusting, long-term relationship with your clients.

Media agencies are entrusted with vast amounts of money and we need to be open, honest and ethical in how these funds are managed. It is our job to help grow our clients’ business through the provision of a professional service, not to make money for ourselves by providing poor advice, low fees and overworking underpaid and under-experienced staff. The industry has allowed itself to be placed in this position. We at Multi Media Buying & Planning realise that business based on price alone is not going to be long-term business. Our clients have grown to realise that we have saved them a lot of money by giving them the right advice, being proactive in our approach to their business, maintaining our staff and being ethical in our conduct.

Today, however, it seems the media business is all about turnover. It’s not about putting the Xs in the right boxes anymore. It’s just about getting as many Xs as possible – who cares if it works?

We all know some of the major media shops in this country have marched out hard with this mindset. While they may have the turnover, they won’t gain a respected, long-term reputation in the market. Unfortunately, clients can be naïve and often they are lured in by a slick presentation with the promise of low fees.

Once the reality of poor service and mismanagement by junior staff sets in, the client is left with a less than favourable opinion of our industry. Many times, they are locked in to a water-tight contract, and the only person suffering is the client. What happened to treating the client with respect, or putting solid thought into an outcome that provides results?

We’re all to blame. Lift your standards, industry, and seek to be paid what you are worth.

Meg Gossert
Managing Director
Multi Media Buying & Planning

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