Advertising and Recruitment. Probably the only two industries where a prospective client makes their suppliers work for nothing and compete for business.
Other industries are competitive, however, nothing compares to the hours and cost that goes into winning a piece of business.
The solution for recruitment is fairly simple - only work on exclusive or retained roles. If you decide to work on an open contingent role, at least explain to the client that this will become a low priority to fill. This is fair enough due to the lack of commitment from the client.
In the advertising model, the problem seems more complex.
Many of my long-term clients are based around this type of business model, the traditional bigger advertising agencies suffering the most. Digital agencies seem able to avoid some of the pitching pain by picking up solid project work and making a decent wedge out of this.
Advertising agencies seem to put in hundreds of man-hours, IP, and costs into winning a large account that is purely a race to the bottom anyway.
It’s common knowledge that the big agencies don’t actually make any money, how could they? It’s basic maths. Look at some of the senior salaries in the business coupled with having to either pitch on new business or pitch to simply retain accounts they already have.
This is madness and it’s a complex problem because the truth of the matter is agencies need to hire senior people to do good work for their clients. The client expects award-winning work that is going to give good ROI. So these clients need to start paying for it.
The answer in my mind is to stop moving accounts around every 5 minutes with each new CMO that walks in the door.
If the pitching model is not going to change then at least offer some loyalty and let the agency work on the account for a considerable amount of time unless they make a massive blunder.
I have come across agencies and clients that have worked successfully in a partnership for three decades.
Many agencies from Advertising to PR, Media, social, content, and digital are trying to adapt. Going from specialists to having a crack at everything. This can work, but I agree with the saying “stick to what you know”.
I am on the sideline observing all of this. If you can give some further insight please comment, I would be fascinated to know if anyone has an answer for this riddle.