David Maister - Professional Business, Professional Life
David’s ResourcesAbout David
NEW! Browse my materials by topic of interest:StrategyManagingClient RelationsCareersGeneral

Passion, People and Principles

Why Don’t Advertising Agencies Advertise?

post # 76 — May 14, 2006 — a Client Relations post

There is an absolutely marvelous blog and discussion about why advertising agencies don’t advertise here.

The argument (and the discussion) could be extended.

Why don’t the branding agencies have branding campaigns?

Which PR firm trying to break into the blogging / social media services marketplace got a lot of bad publicity because it didn’t have a blog of its own, yet held itself out as ready to advise others?

We have already discussed paradoxes like these on this blog under the title of The Shoemakers’ Children.


Mike said:


Great links, especially to your prescient Shoemaker’s Children post. It just goes to show how few people are selling a product they are truly passionate about! It’s one thing to turn up your nose at “eating your own dogfood”, but the truly inspired “drink their own champagne It’s iportant to notice the difference.

posted on May 14, 2006

Brad Farris said:


I have been thinking about this since your “Shoemaker’s Children” post…

About a week after I first read it one of my clients was choosing an agency and asked me to listen to their presentations. Each of the agencies came and told us that they weren’t focused on winning awards, or making pretty ads, they were focused on results, moving the needle for my client. To which my client would respond:

“I’m glad you mentioned that. I’m focused on that too, in order to better align our interests I’d like you to propose how we could tie some portion of your fees to results achieved.”

They acted like we had asked to eat their children. Not one of them would even propose a way to tie fees to performance. My client was willing to pay MORE if he got results. No chance.

The relationship with the agency we chose is now characterized by bartering over fees for each project and phase.

I continue to wonder how much confidence these professionals have in their services.

posted on May 15, 2006

David (Maister) said:

Brad what you describe amazes me, too. However, I am beginning to note that there are now some professional firms beginnig to do what I have done for ten years – give an unconditional satisfaction guarantee. Every single bill that goes out from my office says “If you are less than completely satisfied pay me only what you think it was worth.” I’ve never been cheated and have occasionally received a bonus.

As you and Mike point out it involves nothing more than believing inthe value of your own services. What could be more straightforward?

posted on May 15, 2006

Michael Gass said:


I’ve been a new business executive for 4 ad agencies. It was like pulling teeth to persuade agency principal’s to do what they recommend their clients do. Websites that went years without updates, sporadic mailings without any intergration, very little if any PR effort to promote the agency (you didn’t want to tip off the competition), agency principals refusing to run ads for their agency, resistent to developing an agency marketing plan, lack of focus marketing on key targets that matched the agencies core competencies, afraid to narrow their niche and define how to differentiate themselves from their competitors in fear they would miss out on some new business that wouldn’t be a fit for the agency in the first place. Insane!

Ad agencies are their own worst clients.

posted on January 7, 2008