One thing that is really important to us here at BMinc is the customer experience and we believe that the magic happens when you have a great relationship with the people you are working with/for. This is how we can really get to know a business, what its values are and the personalities behind it, to create a brand that truly fits. Because, as we all know, no two businesses are the same, even if the work they do is similar to another, so it’s vital that we get to the heart of the individual character.
With this in mind we wanted to share Mike Baker’s experience of working with us, and his thoughts on what makes a good agency. Mike is a founder and the Communications Director for The Pension Solutions Group and, to give you an idea of what he’s about, Mike doesn’t believe that wearing a suit and tie makes you professional (Hmmm I wonder why we get on so well?!). You can learn more about Mike and PSG here.
Can you give a little bit about yourself and what PSG is?
I’m one of the company founders and the Communications Director. This isn’t really me (the whole pensions thing) which is partly why we look the way we do as a brand. As twin companies, The Pension Solutions Group (TPSG) and PSG SIPP Limited (PSGS) are Pension Providers that specialise in ‘self-invested pensions’. I know, pretty racy stuff. I wanted the freedom to test an otherwise beige and starchy industry to see if it’d tolerate something distinctly counter-culture.
How long have you been with BMinc as your agency?
BMinc were involved from the moment Big Mike founded the company. However, Mike’s involvement goes back to when we started out, so around 2007.
In your opinion what makes a good agency?
Crikey, I need to be careful here, this could turn into waffle. Can I bullet point this to make sure I get down what I see as the crucial ingredients?:
- Striving to match/harmonise individual personalities. By this I mean that the relationship between a company and it’s chosen agency is a B2B thing but the success or failure of that is often hinged on the chemistry between those doing the briefing and those receiving the brief.
- Demonstrating how well they listen
- Diplomacy skills, not least when needing to help a client avoid making the wrong decision
- Accepting with grace when a client makes the wrong decision
- Good comms – clear, regular and prompt
- Investing the time to understand the brand, and what lies behind the brand to better become that extension of the in-house marketing team
What, in your mind, makes a good relationship with an agency.
It’s often the case, at least in this industry, that the people who’ve reached the dizzying heights of being a key decision maker, have a certain kind of ego. We’ve always viewed those types of ego as a barrier to getting the best out of a relationship with an agency, so I’d start there. We respect the views and opinions of any third-party expert, including design agencies. I think that by showing that respect, and by being prepared to trust, and then unless your chosen agency is way off the mark, you’re off to a good start. Beyond that, and in terms of maintaining that relationship, it goes back to that issue of chemistry. I look forward to my meetings and conversations with Mike. He makes me laugh, he makes me think, he opens my eyes to the possibilities, and he is highly adept at gently side-lining my more eccentric ideas!
Why is a long relationship better than a short relationship in your opinion?
I cannot overstate how effortless everything feels when it comes to communicating briefs to Mike and the team. Some of that’s down to that crucial chemistry, but it’s also due in no small part to just how long we’ve been doing this. Mike understands the brand in a way that only comes with the years we’ve all put into it. But it’s not just that, the longevity of our relationship has also ironed out any creases that would otherwise be there because of other external pressures, the fluidity of things like budgets, priorities, deadlines etc. Mike just takes all this in his stride. The long relationship has made BMinc an extension of our team. That’s honestly how I see it and how it feels.
Where do you see BMinc and PSG going next? Technology, campaigns, design services, illustration?
I’d love Mike to brand a corporate helicopter, but I’m increasingly concerned that this won’t happen!! There are so many projects that are half finished, have been put on ice or just fell off the conveyor belt. I’d love to return to most, if not all, of those as soon as time and budget allows. Beyond that, and perhaps in more simple and broad terms, all of the above! Technology (I am pushing for a bespoke app), animations, new areas of the website, more tools for clients and their advisers to use, profile raising campaigns, company culture enhancements (internal stuff), awards, better online functionality.