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The CMO Mid-Year Review Checklist: Leading an Effective Agency Roster

The CMO Mid-Year Review Checklist: Leading an Effective Agency Roster

It’s early July and half the year flew by.

CMOs everywhere are taking stock of where their business sits vis-à-vis forecast and their promises to the remainder of the C-suite. If things are going well, they want to maintain momentum. If things aren’t on track, there is a growing urgency to get back on track.

This is the perfect time to remember that your agency roster can be a key driver in helping you meet the organization’s goals. So – just how are things going with your agencies?

To help CMOs and senior marketers get their arms around the current effectiveness of their agency relationships, we’ve developed a quick checklist that can help keep you on track.

It is hard to be a great client in today’s corporate environment. There are incredible demands on marketers’ time, big challenges that need to be faced and great uncertainty. So – how does a marketer become a better client and get better work from their agencies?

You can quickly gauge how effective you and your team are at creating effective agency relationships by grading how routinely you are doing a number of specific behaviors that lead to strong client-agency relationships and great work. We suggest grading on a simple 3-point scale like the following:

  1. Rare behavior
  2. Occasional behavior
  3. Regular behavior

The CMO Mid-Year Review Client-Agency Effectiveness Checklist

Grade yourself on the following specific behaviors. These behaviors are essential to leading a highly productive and positive client-agency relationship. Do this now while you can still impact the remainder of the year!

1. Clarity of Vision: Business and marketing goals and strategy for the business are clearly identified and routinely reinforced

2. Realism: The team is consistently realistic about goals, budgets, and the time needed to deliver great work

3. Agency Leadership Training: Your team has been trained in how to brief the agency, evaluate the agency’s work and deliver effective feedback

4. Briefing: The client team briefs the agency (in writing and meetings) thoroughly at project kickoff

5. Approval Processes are Painless: Approval processes are built around the timelines needed for the agency to deliver great work and the least number of meetings possible that can interrupt good progress

6. CMO Proxies: Agency guidance is consistent and fluid as the marketing team broadly delivers feedback and judgements to the agencies that are consistent with the CMO’s vision

7. Agency SOW Fidelity: The marketing team does not ask for out of SOW work without addressing the agency’s compensation

8. Top to Top Relationships: Top to top calls are routine and important issues handled immediately.

9. Ongoing Feedback: Day to day feedback (client to agency; agency to client) is routinely delivered, ensuring no surprises during the annual review

10. Kindness and Respect: The marketing team treats the agency team with the kindness and respect that a team of professionals deserve

Once you’ve graded you team’s behaviors, take a quick look at the scores. Any score below 3 requires attention! Feel free to call us if you’d like quick advice on how to address any grades below 3.

Highly effective agency relationships are important to achieving your goals. Clients that enthusiastically address the above 10 behaviors get better work. Try it yourself! And let us know if you’d like to discuss any of these approaches – we’re always happy to jump on a call.

A Special Note for Agency Executives

Being a client these days is tough, and we encourage patience and kindness from the agency too. However, the ten items on the CMO Checklist above should be basic expectations that agencies have of good clients. Grade your clients and use that exercise as the foundation of your next Top to Top. Respectful but direct conversations will help both teams succeed.

Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Zillow Group, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Ulta Beauty, Stop & Shop, Qualcomm, Brooks Running, and numerous others. He founded MIG after serving as a division president in a Fortune 100 when he was only 32. Earlier in his career, Steve Boehler cut his teeth with a decade in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, leading brands like Tide, Pringles, and Jif.