Customers Are Always Right Until They Aren't

January 30, 2024

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We have all heard the phrase about how the customer is always right. That should be true in most circumstances, especially in low involvement transactions where the cost or risk/reward model are low such as in retail transactions. But when it comes to determining marketing strategies and implementing significant investments in your product or service offering, sometimes the client is not always right.

As a leading marketing consultancy firm, we often interact with clients that have a pre-determined idea of how they want a new campaign to look or which communication strategy is perfect for their brand. In many cases, the client is too close to the problem to see the whole picture or to take into account current perceptions from their customers.

When we partner with clients to reimagine their communications strategy and/or their creative, we help advocate for the customer (or prospect) and try to align existing customer perceptions with the clients’ internal desires, assumptions, and challenges. We do this by talking to as many customers as possible if the client has not recently executed a marketing perception or voice-of-the-customer (VOC) study. This usually includes a competitive landscape and a SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results) analysis along with internal stakeholder interviews. The goal is to understand where there are gaps in beliefs, goals or barriers to success. We know that clients understand their business, products and sales cycle better than we, and we understand marketing and communication strategies better because we are implementing them for many different clients. So, the agency-client partnership works best when we can marry both parties’ expertise and develop smart, innovative solutions that are most relevant to the customer to achieve their communication goals.

We avoid clients who think they know everything and seek out clients who are open to new thinking, performance-based testing and innovating for growth. If a client wants to hire an agency that thinks like them and is not open to having their ideas challenged, they should save their money and just hire freelancers or production vendors to just execute that vision. We can be an extension of an internal marketing department providing greater capacity during key projects or sales events or generating content for multiple channels on a frequent basis. But this project work still requires input from both client and agency and the initial brief determines the best strategies and tactics to implement.

CVR does our best work when we are adding capabilities to the client’s internal marketing team with experienced disciplines such as performance media buying and optimization, crisis communications, brand strategy, or developing new solutions to existing problems. In these cases, it is critical that there is a level of trust between the client and the agency. At CVR, we talk about our clients in the first person – our product or our goals. We become part of the client’s team, and care as much about their business as their own employees do. This has led to agency relationships that are over 30 years old. And we are not afraid to say “no” or suggest alternatives to what our clients are asking. Since we focus on outcomes instead of output, we really don’t care which strategies or tactics get utilized to solve their communication goals. This doesn’t mean we are always right, but we develop our most effective plans in concert with our clients and we own it if we miss the mark.

So, if you are looking for a new advertising or PR agency but just need a vendor to execute your plan, CVR would not be the best choice for your brand. If you are looking for an extension of your in-house marketing department to add capacity or capabilities, give us a call. We will treat your budget like our own, fighting to get the most out of every dollar to deliver on your communication objectives.

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