It’ll Take How Long?

Your Agency: Inside/Out 

Everything your agency wants you to know but won’t tell you because they don’t want you to fire them. 

A Forbes study* shows that only 41% of all marketing clients have a positive view of their agencies.  Only 38% report they are satisfied with their agencies.  But it doesn’t have to work this way.

Here at Push, we’d like to present a series of articles to help clients better understand and work with their agency. You’re welcome.

Now the seventh in our eight part installment…

It’ll Take How Long?

Really? A week and a half? For a landing page?

A creative director I know used to say, “Good creative takes time.” “You can have wine or you can have grape juice, your choice.”  Well, that’s half truth and half smokescreen. If we were able to kickoff your project today and work on it uninterrupted we could have
Wile Coyote time bombsomething great for you in a few days. But the reality is there are three other projects ahead of you in the queue, two creatives are out sick and our biggest client just called with a “favor”. We just can’t tell you these things because we don’t want you to feel like you’re not our top priority.

It’s at this point that you may want to reference our earlier blog post where we describe an agency as a well-choreographed beehive. Work is constantly flowing in and out of the agency. There are new projects we’re kicking off, concepts we’re presenting for the first time and projects we’re working frantically to get out of the door. But although you’re not our only client, your business is important to us. And it’s our job to make sure we don’t let you down by missing your deadline.

Most agencies are constantly playing the plate-spinning game, trying to make sure we
are managing internal traffic flow to keep our people fully busy (because that’s how
we make money) while still meeting the daily priorities of our clients (because that’s also how we make money). A successful agency is constantly spinning between these two functions. But the reality of our business is that good work actually does take some Plate spinningtime. We spend our day ideating on new campaigns while finishing work that is in progress.  Creative and production mindsets are completely different. It’s a dance, and usually we do it in an elegant way. We must commit the time necessary to do the kind of quality work you hired us to do, yet we have to make sure we deliver the goods.  In order to be successful we have to be clear, proactive communicators, both inside our agency and out. Here’s how you can mange the beehive:

  1. Give us realistic dates in writing. Let us know your ultimate deadline and other critical deadlines along the way. Don’t ask, “When can you get this to me?” Tell us when you need it.
  2. Ask us to produce a work back schedule, even for medium-sized projects. Then hold us to it. I wish we were better with deadlines, but there are times in the beehive where scheduling steps gets skipped. If it happens, call us out on it and we’ll hop to.
  3. Give us the context that drives your deadlines. Is there a trade show coming up? Does this sitelet correspond with a product launch date? Are you going on vacation? Is your entire professional reputation tied to this deliverable date? Any context will not only put a fire under us, it will also provide opportunities to possibly buy a little more time without inconveniencing anyone.
  4. Coordinate with your internal team to turn things quickly on your end. Often, deadlines are missed because our clients haven’t held up their end of the bargain and it’s embarrassing for us to point it out, even if we’re in the right.
  5. Help us prioritize. The best clients tell us what is time critical and what isn’t. Not that anything should ever slide, but if something has to, we want to make sure it is farther down your priority list.
  6. Batch your requests. Don’t call us with updates and changes six or seven times a day. As a young account manager, I found myself toggling up and down the aisle to the creative group with one request after another. Once a young designer exploded, “How can I finish her first request when she just hit me up with her fifth request of the day?”
  7. Sometimes things happen. We get overwhelmed. Someone gets sick. Something takes more time than expected. Bring it to our attention ASAP and we’ll do everything we can to make it right. A little grace goes a long way.

Agencies are golden retrievers at heart. We’re always trying to please. Sometimes we aren’t as organized as we could be. But with clear communication and sometimes a friendly nudge, we can usually deliver for you time and time again.


Don Low is a principal at Push. When he’s not working, he’s turning laps in a pool, riding his road bike, rooting his kids on or deciding what to make for dinner.

*Forbes Study


It'll Take How Long?