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  • Frank Gussoni

Some Companies Have a Fool for a Client!

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

In law when someone wants to represent themselves, they often say, “he who represents himself has a fool for a client”! It’s often true in advertising and media also, and here’s why.

Most companies have moved their social media platforms inward, which I understand. They want to control the message, need quick response times, and need to make sure what is being posted is right from the horse’s mouth!

But then there are the companies who have decided to move every facet of media into their offices because they believe they can do a better job than an agency and can save the commissions. If in fact, they have a lazy or diabolical agency they may be right, but if they have a tenacious and trustworthy agency partner, that notion couldn’t be farther from the truth!

Case in point. I was recently speaking to a perspective client, a well-funded start up. They were interested in speaking to us but in the end decided they could do our job as well as we can and save themselves money. So, they made several radio and OOH buys. They knew nothing about neither but in the end paid 50% more for the same stations we currently deal with in those markets. They signed a sponsorship deal revolving around a morning jock that already had another large exclusive endorsement deal prohibiting him from endorsing any other client, so the station pawned them off on an overnight talent. They also purchased several bad boards at rate card, without driving them or Googling them to see where they were and what obstructions there might be in play.

When it was all said and done, they spent a few hundred thousand dollars, ended up with a weak radio buy, a no name jock and out of home boards that you either need to fly over or bring your binoculars to see! Unfortunately, I’m serious!

Now, we’re having another discussion. One where we have shown them serious research on their products, competition, markets and mediums. We’re showing them better properties that will help them reach their objectives quicker and cheaper, and raise their SOV substantially, which is exactly what a product launch needs!

I think it’s sadly funny that companies hire law firms and accounting firms and listen to their advice but for some unknown reason don’t believe a media agency can bring anything of substance to the table.

My staff vets companies every week looking for truly differentiating opportunities. My staff is obligated to spend 20% of their work week taking industry and higher educational classes. We have specialists in every facet of media that covers the guidelines from the IAB to the newest methodologies of Geopath and everything in between. Folks fluent in Influencers, to Podcasting to CTV. More than 200 years of experience living and breathing our profession.

Yet many times none of that seems of value to a potential client. These CMO hacks aren’t current and don’t understand their actual needs. Last week they were marketing mattresses at Company ABC and this week they are selling spirits at Company XYZ. They hire newbies that used Facebook in college, so they consider these graduates experts in all forms of social media advertising, whom also are allergic to traditional media and firmly believe it has no place in today’s business.

They have never placed a buy, have no idea of costs and successful negotiating tactics. Why? Because they don’t understand the intricacies of our industry.

If it sounds like I’m venting, you’re right I am! I’ve practiced and been a student of media trends and models for 30 years. In all due respect I’ve forgotten more about media than most of these folks know, yet they consider us equals! News flash, WERE NOT!

Media, like every other business has its potholes and landmines, its areas of deception and its genuine opportunities. Only through formal training, continued education and experience can a truly impactful buy be made. It doesn’t happen by chance and EVERYONE CANNOT DO IT!

Media agencies worth their salt are true professionals, no matter what procurement may think! They are equally as important as the creative agency. Incorrect placements or overspending can limit the effectiveness of a campaign nearly as much as lousy creative or kill it completely.

The truth is a great agency knows the nuances well enough that they should be able to deliver a healthy plan and save the client more than their commission costs. So, in the end a company is securing a better campaign and having a diligent team work on every facet of the campaign beginning with research and ending with traffic reconciliations, that literally paid for themselves.

So, the next time your company considers taking all media inhouse, ask yourself whether they would sit with the IRS without their accountants present or go to court without their legal eagles. Because if they do any of these things, then they truly do have a fool for a client!



President & Founder of A3 media.

We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

Frank’s Take provides uncommon sense media buying advice for regional and mid-market businesses.

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President & Founder of A3 media. We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

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