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Agency Culture Marketing

This is what it feels like to be ghosted by a client

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By Fiona Parker, Head of production

November 10, 2023 | 7 min read

Like online dating, agencies have to cultivate chemistry with clients. Fiona Parker, head of production at Hydrogen, talks about the pain of being ghosted.

When clients ghost agencies

It’s been two weeks. Should you call them? Or is that too keen? Too desperate? But you’re not desperate! You’d just like to hear from them! You’re happy to wait, but just want to confirm they've still got you in mind. Is that too much to ask?

No, I’m not talking about your last Tinder match. I’m talking about the last client you pitched to and never heard from again. Why has this become such a common trend? And why are we, as agencies, freelancers, or anyone else, accepting this?

At our agency, we don’t just throw together a few slides and call it a day. We treat every project like the beginning of an epic love story. When we get a brief, it’s not a mere formality; for us it’s the start of a beautiful relationship. A relationship where we’re keen to charm you, impress you, and make you believe that you are in the hands of the perfect partner.

Crafting a pitch is an art, a delicate dance of strategy, creativity, and understanding. We delve into the intricacies of your brand, researching its history, dissecting its competitors, and deciphering its audience. It’s not just about selling a service; it’s about connecting on a deeper level aligning our vision with yours.

Much like creating a dating profile, preparing for a pitch is a meticulous process that goes beyond just throwing together some words and picking pretty images. It's about diving deep into your world, understanding what makes you tick.

We spend hours brainstorming, debating, and refining ideas until we find the sweet spot that blows your objectives and expectations out of the water.

And let’s not forget the emotional rollercoaster we ride with every pitch. It’s not just a transaction for us; it’s a commitment to a potential partnership. Sending off a proposal is like waiting for a reply after pouring your heart out – we’re hopeful that you see the passion and energy we’ve poured into that moment. We’re hopeful that you can see the passion and energy we could continue to bring to our future relationship. We’re not just offering you a service; we’re offering you our hand, inviting you to embark on a wonderful adventure together.

So, when clients ghost agencies, it’s like going on a date, sharing your deepest secrets, and then being met with silence [editor's note: don't do that on a first date]. It’s not just a rejection; it’s a slap in the face. It’s a dismissal of the time, energy, and creativity we’ve dedicated to understanding and elevating your brand. It leaves us questioning not just our ideas but our entire worth at the table.

In an industry where communication is supposed to be key, ghosting is a cowardly (lack of) response. A simple 'Thanks, but no thanks' or 'It’s not you, it’s us' would be golden – that at least acknowledges the effort put in and displays decency and integrity. Maybe it’s not even a ‘no,’ but rather a ‘no, not right now’ and that’s cool. We get it. Sometimes there are delays, sometimes goalposts move – but knowing where we stand is all we’re asking for. Agencies don’t just throw resources at pitches; they pour their creative souls into each proposal. To be met with silence is not just a rejection; it’s a disregard for the human side of business, where relationships and respect should be the name of the game. Even if it is us, let us know why. Are we not cool enough? Maybe you think you can’t afford someone as fabulous as us? Or maybe you can’t get over your ex (read: incumbent agency) and aren’t ready for a new relationship yet. Whatever it is, a little closure can go a long way.

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Just like in any relationship, communication is key. Ghosting leaves both sides hanging, with more questions than answers and a sense of unrealized potential. As an industry, it’s time to ditch the ghosting and embrace a culture of open communication. Acknowledge the efforts, shoot a simple response, and let’s make this professional environment a bit healthier and a lot more respectful.

So, please, we’re just an agency, standing in front of a client, asking them to respond to our proposal (in a reasonable timeframe, please!)

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