Home > Uncategorized > Dentist and advertising agencies

Dentist and advertising agencies

The other day I went to my dentist for a routine check up.

First using his little devices he peered into my mouth and recommend cleaning the back side of the teeth.

After that he then used a ‘dental’ camera to take pictures of the teeth to spot cavities.

And finally a set of x-rays to look at dental structure.

At each stage he explained what he was doing, why and recommended a course of action.

To nearly all of which I agreed.

On my way back, I was thinking about the process and wondered what it would take to get a similar relationship between agencies and clients.

After all advertising is a science.  And it should be reasonable to expect that agency recommendations are similarly explained and bought by clients.

I imagine, however, as agencies often position their services as an art, in the form of creative campaigns it swiftly moves into the area of subjectivity.

If agencies found a way to make the process more scientific they may find client interactions much easier. I expect that’s what clients would prefer too. While it increased everyone’s productivity.

Thinking further on this I believe one of the first things agencies should agree on is metrics to measure brands and campaigns. Competing between each other results in creation of different metrics thereby making the whole thing subjective.

Imagine if the top agency groups with their research partners came together and were able to agree on a set of common metrics to evaluate campaigns and brand strength?

Just like no matter which dentist one went too, the prognosis is pretty much the same. Clean, cavities, reconstruction.

To enable this of course we should first be able to agree on the customer journey/funnel.

Again we started decades ago with AIDA. However as agencies have grown and become more competitive they have created their own versions of the same customer buying process.

How many of these journeys are so dramatically different? Often times it is a matter of semantics.

Would it be too much to conceive a day when agencies can agree on a buying process. Yes there will be variations between some key categories, as there should be. But can the building blocks be the same?

With a standardised process and metric for each stage of the process agreed on, then the role of agencies become entirely focused on moving the prospect (or customer) to the next stage of the process against clearly defined metrics.

The conversations are less about the logo and the lady in blue and more about specific activities to meet specific objectives.

It in some ways also addresses the pay per performance issue that seems to have seized client agency relationships.

This is high level construct of my early thoughts of a way to evolve the agency business and over the next few posts will try and add more meat to this.


  1. Sreenesh
    October 27, 2009 at 5:10 am

    Hi Harish-
    Just gave my car for servicing at a Maruti Service Station. The person attending to me gave such a patient, vivid and precise description of the entire process, different steps and what the service covers and what it does not AND what more can be done to improve the efficiency of the car and why, that I happily agreed to shell out Rs. 1800 for value added services like wheel alignment, weights etc I hadn’t even thought of.

    Just like the dentist, I’m sure car servicing is follows a certain format everywhere. But the way the pro-active presentation was packaged and the simple english used to make even a machine-dumb guy like me understand the process made all the difference.

    Coming to the creative/campaign measurement metrics. I sure agree with you that common metrics would sure make all the difference and help resurrect our stature as ‘communication experts’. But then isn’t the marketing problem/brief the bedrock of the evolution of any good communication brief? Now how many times do marketers use advertising to solve a sharply defined business problem? I haven’t seen many in my advertising tenure. So, as long as the clients do advertising for the sake of advertising, I fear it will always be in the zone of subjectivity.
    Do you think so, Harish?


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