When justifying marketing spend, there is no excuse for a “yes” that really should be a “no”. “Yes-men” in the agency world are becoming increasingly common – and, if you’re not careful, they carry the potential to consume your budget and cripple your marketing program without getting results.
Why Would You Want Your Agency to Disagree with You?
Imagine hiring a mechanic to fix the squeaky sound in your car and telling him what you think it is and how to make the repairs. A good mechanic will explain in his/her professional opinion where the sound is coming from and how to fix it – even if the fix is different than what you thought it should be. A yes-man will take your money and leave you down a few thousand dollars – and you still have a broken car.
It’s the exact same situation when a business is looking for an agency to help its marketing. A marketing partner or firm should be more concerned about fixing your problem than agreeing to your ideas or implementing your requested tactics. While it may be unusual to have a marketing partner introduce different tactics or even push back, you’ll be thankful that someone is taking the initiative and venturing outside your preferences to find the right solution.
How Do Agencies Become “Yes-Men”?
There are several possible reasons marketing firms prefer to be yes-men:
- They want you to like them and stay with them.
- They may not be comfortable asserting solutions to your stated needs because they may lack the expertise to determine what will work best.
- They don’t know how to start with goals and metrics rather than tactics.
- They feel they aren’t as accountable when YOU pick the strategies and tactics.
- They need your revenue so they’ll agree to anything, even if it’s not in their strong suit.
It takes a certain type of agency to tell a prospective client “no, you shouldn’t have us do that,” and that’s especially true the higher the marketing spend climbs. Agencies may agree to anything for fear of losing potential business. A solid agency partner, however, will help craft your marketing tactics based on your desired outcomes while also challenging your perspective.
What Does a “Yes-Man” Agency Look Like?
A true “yes-man” agency may be hard to identify. A good rule of thumb is to be wary of anyone who is quick to agree without asking a lot of questions. If you suspect your agency of over-agreeing with you, throw them an unlikely scenario and see how they react: “We may be a B2B company, but I want to spend a few grand on advertising on Pinterest.” A reputable company will steer you away from a bad tactic, give you reasons why and find the best alternative course of action that addresses your end goal.
You should always be exploring and even challenging your marketing company’s strategy. Be sure they can back up what they’re recommending with measurable plans and results. Ask to review findings and results. If you get brushed aside when you want to know if your investment is creating results, you may be dealing with a “yes-man.”
How Do You Avoid the “Yes-Men”?
Ask for tangible strategic goals and expected plan of action to ensure the agency can provide real answers – then make sure you can follow the same line of thinking. A good agency will be happy to oblige your curiosity. Even better, ask for past results from clients. If the only great marketing that an agency does is its own, then it may have missed the point.