In-Scope: An Open Letter to Myself

Kristie Asciak is Head of Fuse Sydney, helping clients deliver on their business challenges with content led decisions.




Dear Agency Me,

Now that you’ve settled into your new role in agency land, and before you get too used to being the oldest person in the room, I thought you should be reminded about a few things from the last 15 years you worked client side, so that it might serve you well in this next phase of your life.

You needed boundaries

Don’t ask, don’t get. Just like a toddler you would push boundaries.  So even though you knew deep down you only had time for two edits to that creative, if it still wasn’t right you’d ask for more- even if it was your fault because you missed something the first time, and despite expired deadlines.  Why? Because your focus was on a great end result and if you pushed miracles generally happened.

Now you’re on the other side don’t be afraid to hold your client to those requirements, but make sure you plan for them in a constructive way.  Alert your clients ahead of time as they are approaching limits on revisions, costs or lead times.  If your client is sitting on feedback chase them – even if it’s via an annoying SMS.  You can bet that they would rather hear from you than tell their boss a deadline will be missed or quality impacted.  They might even thank you for it.

 You rarely ever looked at the fine print on a scope of work

Sure, for the big contracts you were across all the detail. But for an everyday production estimate? Your eyes just went straight to the dollars. So back to point 1, there were times when edits limits just didn’t even cross your mind.

So if the name of the game is management, be sure to highlight any hard line conditions that you are going to have to uphold or that may have presented as a problem in the past.  Don’t assume the detail is read – cover yourself.  But as I said before, do it ahead of time as last thing you want to do is back them into a corner.

And that reminds me, generally the one person who signed the agency contract didn’t necessarily work within it day to day. So partner with your senior clients to cascade contracts throughout their team, or induct new client’s team members so they are fully briefed as to what services are in scope.

A rate cut never meant a quality cut

This one is pretty simple; even when you negotiated a rate , you still expected the same quality of delivery. So now that you are on other side of the production estimate, before you agree to cut the paid hours in a job, understand that you’re probably still expected to deliver the same outcome.  Either accept that fact, or don’t agree to it.

The opinions of your agency team mattered, even if you didn’t listen

Marketing is as much a science as an artform.  You valued what your agency partners thought.  It was consideration, debate and food for thought and even when you didn’t ask for their point of voice you appreciated it when they gave it.

So never stop giving your considered opinion.  You’re a team with your client and have been hired because you can provide deeper expertise beyond that which a client, who needs to be more generalist in their knowledge, has the capacity to obtain. They may not agree with you every time, but then again, you’re working in an art form, and not a science.

Sometimes your hands were tied, even on the great ideas

To that end, don’t be too disheartened when great thinking gets knocked back.  Sometimes not even your client will have the final say.  From what you have experienced, agency land is more autonomous and has fewer reporting lines and stakeholders to take into consideration.  In fact, even when you were Head of Marketing you had your own internal clients to service – the sales team, all with their own influence and voice and real sales targets to meet. You’re also now providing a recommendation on just one piece of the business puzzle and you might not be aware of how the other pieces fit.So try to be sympathetic when you get a “no” because sometimes that “no” is painful to deliver, and try to focus on understanding why for next time.

So there you have it.  I hope this comes in handy.  Good luck with everything and if you get yourself into trouble give me a call.

Yours sincerely,

Client Me

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