Every blog, news site, conference, seminar (or webinar?), there is one thing that has been appearing for as long as we can remember.
It is some variation or the other of “Digital agencies aren’t doing enough to educate clients”.
The thing is, if they haven’t succeeded till now, there is something wrong. It could be any of the following:
– Agencies don’t want to educate clients.
– Clients don’t want to be educated by agencies.
– Agencies don’t know jack about anything themselves.
– It’s a meaningless, slightly condescending and probably irrelevant objective in the first place.
Or, they may all be true. (Though as you may have detected, we lean slightly towards the last point.)
What is hard to understand is, what exactly do clients need to be educated about?
Media properties? Effectiveness for those properties? Facebook insights? Relevance of Facebook insights? How to create viral videos?
Almost all aspects of digital advertising, perhaps advertising itself, have been obfuscated beyond the grasp of a normal person.
It probably suites some people well, if clients don’t understand what goes on behind the servers and clouds, in the magical ecosystem of socially empowered consumers engaging in interactive experiences and conversations.
But the point is, why do clients need to be educated at all?
The role of an agency should be pretty simple. You do try to understand and solve a client’s problems. You show the client how well (or badly) you did it. And you repeat, until you win awards or get fired.
How you solve it, what strategies and platforms you use, how much time and money you devote to any aspect, is up to you.
It sounds a bit condescending to say to a client that we can’t really account for your money, or measure ourselves against a clear objective, so we’re going to make up words and educate you about them.
Granted, clients may sometimes come across as utterly clueless about even the basics of the medium.
But it’s 2012! Everyone should know by now what a website is for and what’s cool on the internets.
Apart from that, it’s not that complicated, is it?
You create something interesting that communicates a message and persuades people to act. And you try and reach the right people wherever they are.
The clients don’t need to be educated about much else. They have their own job to do.
Agencies, on the other hand, could probably do with some education.
About what the client exactly does. About how their products or services are created and used. About the real business problems they face, and if they can be solved by us.
Or, we could all just get MBAs!
This is not to say that we’ve got it all right. Probably the opposite, if anything. But we usually like asking questions and wondering aloud.
At least unless a client tells us they want their own Facebook 😛