Some interesting words from Nissan’s marketing chief, Roel de Vries in an article from The Drum, (Why is it my job to herd all these cats’? Nissan marketing chief Roel de Vries on agency relationships) where he points to “a lack of integration within agencies as the main factor for brands failing to achieve a consistent, ongoing, relationship with customers across multiple markets and touch points.”

First, I had to ask myself if this is 2005.

Agencies can’t seem to win here-does the marketer want one agency who can do it all or a different agency for each specialty?

Certainly Mr. de Vries wants the former and while the apparently fickle nature of marketers will always exist, he does make some good points and ones you need to take to heart as you’re approaching prospects.

Prospects Want Your Agency On The Cutting Edge But They Don’t Want To Be The Experiment

1) Prospects want to know you’re on the cutting edge but they don’t want to be the experiment

Per the article:

Because the past 10 years have been about learning “the fashion of digital,” as de Vries labelled it, marketers have been experimenting with a lot of initiatives, “creating a lot of bling,” and “spending a fortune on little pockets” across the business.

Once again, the fickle beast rises-inevitably some great work comes from experimentation with the “latest and newest” and risks will be involved.

The client wants it but doesn’t want to be the guinea pig.

So from a new business standpoint, you’ve got to create cases studies that will let the prospect know up front your agency embraces innovation (if you can legitimately claim that) but can back that up with results.

It’s amazing to me how many agencies still just wing it when it comes to case studies.


 2) Be prepared to teach-marketers don’t know what they don’t know

In a recent kickoff meeting with a new agency client, the agency owner described how one of their clients had come on board and told them their previous agency kept them completely in the dark when it came to projects. Per the article:

 A big part of it has made our marketing less efficient than the traditional TV ad, which it shouldn’t, but it is. If we look at all the analysis, traditional media is still doing extremely well, and it’s not because traditional media is more powerful, it’s because we and our agencies are still in the learning process of how we engage people.

 In regards to that last sentence, the client can’t and shouldn’t be involved in the nitty gritty of the ongoing work, but you can and should help them learn as you learn and that should be included in your new business pitches as well.

Prospects Want Your Agency On The Cutting Edge But They Don’t Want To Be The Experiment

 3) If you’re an integrated agency-embrace it

Seems obvious that you would, right?

You would think, but I’ll still often hear agencies undersell that fact and even downplay it, “Well, yes, we’re integrated, but everybody pretty much is.” From the article:

 The agency world is not ready [to change]. They have companies for everything and we need to have one agency with different specialties to deal with [bringing consistency to a business].

 He envisioned that within five years agencies would have come back to an integrated model. But to encourage a change within its own business de Vries created Nissan United last year after telling Omnicom it no longer wanted contracts with multiple agencies under one holding company.

 You’ll see agencies say they’re integrated when that’s not really the reality, so if you truly are, make sure you’re able to explain, beyond just saying the word, how that will help your prospects and what that partnership will look like.

I'm the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.