If I Were A Client…

You know that Beyonce song, “If I were a boy”?

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about clients and the decisions they make, as well as the decisions they don’t make. Having been on the agency side my entire career tends to put me at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding what goes on behind closed doors on the client side. On the other hand, having worked with hundreds of clients in dozens of industries in markets around the globe has also given me a very unique perspective.

Naturally what I am most interested in knowing is what compels a client to hire one agency over another or to not hire an agency when they really need one or to hire an agency when they really don’t need one. These are things I am more than curious about, but not yet obsessed with; I want to get to the bottom of them, but I can still sleep just fine at night if I do not know the answers.

In an effort to get at the answers in a scientific way, we (Sweeney) are planning to conduct a formal survey among marketing professionals who are responsible for making such decisions. I promise to make all the results public (even to other agencies) upon completion.

In the meantime, I wanted to share the perspective of one corporate marketing professional whose opinion I respect more highly than most. His background is balanced and impeccable, having worked on both the agency and the corporate side… having worked with the world’s smallest and largest marketing agencies… having worked with local, national and international corporations… and having worked with consumer, business, industrial and institutional clients.

During a recent conversation, I wondered aloud what agencies should communicate to prospective clients, not feeling entirely certain about what clients want. Here is his response:

I loathe agencies telling me how wacky and fun and creative they are. I don’t care. What I care about is your ability to solve my problem. And the ability to do it well and on time and on budget. I don’t care that you have a pool table in the creative department.

[For the record, Sweeney does not own a pool table or a ping pong table or a foosball table or a pinball machine or a climbing wall. Any pictures you may have seen of me or my employees in a ball pit were clearly taken at Chuck E. Cheese during normal lunch hours.]

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.