This month, I spoke with Charlie Fashana, the Director of Marketing at AAA of Western and Central New York.
Charlie’s career started in banking at HSBC and later First Niagara Bank. He moved over to the agency side for several years and is now back on the client side, informing marketing strategy and leading a team of marketers.
His 20 years of experience working on both sides of the table helped shape this Q&A and gave us a lot to talk about.
Advice for Client-Side Marketers
We discussed some advice for clients when they are looking for a new agency. Mostly, clients should identify the true role they need an agency to play in their marketing infrastructure.
If you are looking for fresh, new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking, you can cast a wider net and look at more agencies to fill that role. If you need expertise in a certain area, like brand activation, you want to narrow your search down to agencies you know have that expertise.
Many companies will look for agencies with specific industry experience, to shorten the learning curve and onboarding process. In Charlie’s experience, this works well in very specific industries such as insurance, due to the amount of regulation and nuances between products. However, if you are looking for a specific marketing expertise, sometimes industry experience doesn’t matter.
One more piece of advice: let the agency know a range for your budget! Not providing a budget can severely limit what you get back from the agency, or it can be wasting both of your time if they are too expensive.
Advice for Agencies
Charlie had a lot of great advice for agencies to better serve their clients, both in the pitch process and when you are officially working with them.
Here are a few key takeaways from our chat:
- Do your homework on the company. You could think something doesn’t seem innovative because you’ve done it so many times before. But if the company you are pitching hasn’t tried it, it could be very exciting to them.
- Make an effort to understand all of the challenges your client is facing outside of their relationship with you. They answer to many stakeholders and often have data or technology challenges. When you can understand their framework, you can prepare to adjust your ideas to work within it.
- Coordinating internal feedback and working with all of the many stakeholders takes time. Work with your client contacts to get realistic timelines and expectations.
- Find out who the decision makers are on the client side and how you are able to support them. Do they have a marketing structure or is your contact someone in sales or an owner of the business?
- During a proposal process, take the time to ask questions and form a relationship with the decision maker. This will allow you to get the answers you need and figure out if this is a client you really want.
- Be honest about who is working on the account during the pitch process to continue to build trust.
Want more from Charlie?
Listen to the full episode to hear more musings about the state of marketing today, predictions, and advice! You can also catch up with Charlie for Buffalo Bills and WNY news on Twitter at @CharlieFlash23, or connect with him on LinkedIn. His team is looking for a few more good additions so you can also follow AAA of WCNY on all social channels to get the listings.
Follow @TheAgencyScoop on Twitter or find me on LinkedIn on The Agency Scoop Page.
About The Agency Scoop
Each episode, we tackle a specific topic with another friend from Cypress North or pull in leaders from other companies. We’ll chat about what’s helping our agency grow, how we work with clients, things that bring us joy, and even the challenges we face. Please subscribe on your favorite podcast player to follow along!