If you want to be a trusted advisor, then go and earn it
A view from Mark Creighton

If you want to be a trusted advisor, then go and earn it

It's nearly the end of February and not one of my clients has asked me about: TV price inflation; the consolidation of DSPs in programmatic trading; the disintermediation of media agencies...

They have, however, asked me a hell of a lot of questions about the role media can play in business and margin growth, customer retention and product development – and much more besides. How can media data underpin their understanding of their customers, existing and new? What media and technology trends should they be reading about?

They’re asking me questions not on the transactional element of their relationship with Mindshare, but on the kind of things that will support the evolution of their business.

I’m not suggesting that, as media agencies, we have a God-given right to engage in this conversation.

We have to secure our place in the debate. We have to earn our client’s trust if we want to be a valued partner to them, rather than just another banger in the sausage factory.

How we do this is simple. We listen more. We tell less. We are realistic about what media can and can’t deliver against our clients’ business ambitions. We are consistent in evidencing the value that media has contributed against those ambitions.

'Enough of the navel-gazing at the inner mechanics of our business, like some over-enthusiastic petrolhead'

A media agency’s role has evolved to be far more consultative than it has ever been – and less about the functions that lead to the purchase of a spot, impression or post. Just think of the insights we can generate from media data – insights that can and should inform our clients’ product development or customer service proposition. These insights can add a huge chunk of value to our clients’ business, yet we don’t have to spend a penny in paid media to generate them. Our role does not have to be tied to a transaction.

And to be a true consultant – a true advisor – in a fast-changing landscape burgeoning with new opportunities in data, content and technology, we need to stop just telling our clients how we do things, instead focusing on the value we generate.

Educating clients around data, content and technology in media is, of course, an important part of our role – but it’s just not about vomiting out every technical aspect of what you do. Enough of the media industry navel-gazing at the inner mechanics of our business, like some over-enthusiastic petrolhead.

Instead, our role is to simplify, contextualise and evidence the ways media can enhance our clients’ business. Now more than ever – with so much new ground to articulate and explain to our clients – we need to look closely at how we’re communicating our role as a client’s trusted advisor.

Mark Creighton is the chief executive of Mindshare UK