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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Media Agencies

Posted by Neil Pace on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 @ 07:08 AM

In 1989, Stephen Covey wrote his bestselling book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" which went on to sell over 25 million copies. The purpose of the book was to help readers understand that everyone has a different perspective -two people can see the exact same thing and yet observe separate things - which can often be a hurdle when trying to achieve a common goal. Covey devised 7 habits that will get these differing perspectives in sync. A recent article asked if these habits were still valid in today's world (in a word, the answer is yes). While reading, I realized that - not only are these habits valid - they should be applied to your business practices as well. But what does this mean when applying them to your media agency?

1. Be Proactive

The first habit is the simplest: Look at what you can change and try to change it, rather than reacting to things you cannot control. You cannot force someone to buy your product or service or like it more than a competitor's, but you can educate them. Tell them why your widget is better than a competitor's. Does it have more features? Lower price? Better customer service? Whatever it is, your goal is to let them know and do so on your terms. Don't wait until a competitor one-ups you. You should strive to be the one-upper and make your competitors reactive. Once they're off balance, you'll likely keep them there.

2. Begin with the End in Mind

Marketing is a process. Often a very long one. It's important to keep in mind what your end goal is when defining your media strategy. Increase foot traffic? Build a customer database? Maximize sales? None of these are achieved overnight. They take strategic planning. Once you've defined your end goal, the steps that lead to that goal will become more clear. This makes putting together your media plans much easier.

3. Put First Things First

This is just another way of saying "Prioritize." This is really an extension of the first 2 habits, but just as critical. Media planning and creative development can sometimes get bogged down in minutiae. Asking how many TV or cable commercials will be purchased or what colors look best in a digital ad, while more important questions like "Is radio the right medium for this message?" go unanswered. Focus on the most important questions or decisions first, then follow with the next most important, and so on.

4. Think Win-Win

This one is also deceptively simple: in order to win, someone else doesn't have to lose. You don't have to tear down a competitor to win. Doing so can have a negative result. For an example of the opposite of this habit, just look at any political ad you've seen in your lifetime. Instead, focus on what makes your product or service great and pass that along to your consumers. The "win-win" comes when customers are satisfied with your offering. Happy customers are returning customers. When customers are happy, they want to share that with other potential customers. And when a client is happy, the agency is extremely happy. That's technically a "win-win-win," but let's stay on topic.

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

In the media agency realm, this means one thing: Research. Whether it's from syndicated sources or customized research, the goal of any research is the same: to learn about your customers, their habits, their media usage, and their mindset before you try to engage them. This should definitely occur at the beginning of any media plan creation, but has merit in all stages of your marketing process: product development, creative development, post-campaign performance analysis, and more. No company has ever failed because they knew too much about their customers.

6. Synergize

Here's a buzzword if I ever heard one, but what it means is more important than how it looks in a slideshow: Everything should work together. Your media team members should all be working in tandem towards your goals. The media team should be in sync with the creative team. The various media types should complement each other. The messaging for each medium should be uniform and lead to a common goal. Full disclosure is a must for this to work, and all egos should be checked at the door.

7. Sharpen the Saw

This habit as originally presented by Covey had more to do with renewing your resolve to achieve your goals. And your media agency should do this, whether it's their client's first campaign or their twenty-first. But sometimes sharpening the saw isn't enough. Sometimes, you have to switch to a chainsaw. Same result, but a different tactic. In media, this means staying on top of the latest news in the industry and learning new techniques to get the job done. It means testing new media options and measuring results to get the most effective media plan possible. And once you've applied your learnings to the next media program, you should do it all over again.

These habits are by no means all-inclusive, but are a good guideline for what you should seek out in a media agency partner. By looking for these characteristics, you'll be assured of a long-lasting, mutually beneficial agency partnership. Click here to learn more about agency partnerships from our team.


McCulloch+Company is an advertising media services company that integrates the innovation of digital media with the strengths of traditional paths. Founded in 1994 and located in historic Roswell, Georgia, McCulloch+Company is regarded as one of the Southeast's preeminent media agencies. The agency is skilled at managing B2B and B2C clients in a multitude of industry categories. 

Topics: media planning, media buying, media partner, strategy

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