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How To Pick An Agency That Will Get You The Most Return On Your Investment As A Tech Company — Part 7

Those you’ll be talking to will be telling you if their opinion doesn’t align with yours because of one simple reason.

They wouldn’t be sitting in front of you if they didn’t disagree before.

They can and will handle pushback. I’ll explain with examples.

Upon a quick definition search:



1. a negative or unfavourable reaction or response.

That’s not specifically what I mean — they won’t be rude when they say something but indeed if they believe it’s not in the best interest, they’ll let you know. Depending on the agency representative’s personality, that’ll a different mix of direct speech, assertiveness and politeness.

Creatives are fragile people?

Naturally we’re not talking about rudeness here. And yes, business is business, everyone must be doing this — put out their point of view and be honest about it.

However, since in the creative industry we’re talking about creatives, these people, statistically speaking, have more of a critic’s voice, as they probably score high in neuroticism. There’s also another consequence of that, which I’ll get to in a second.

When I say “score high in neuroticism”, I’m referencing to one of the Big Five personality traits. I’ll be talking about these two traits in particular:

Openness: The tendency towards art, adventure and new. Creative people generally are distributed to score high in openness due to the implications: they’re open to exploring new things all the time (which means to create, in some of these cases) and rarely settle for one of the solutions they’ve found. Hence, they had to pursue something that’s endlessly permutable in order to fulfil this need.

However, all these come with a cost.

Neuroticism: The tendency to experience stress and/or negative emotion. Anxiety, depression or anger are more likely to happen to those who score high in neuroticism, and it makes sense why that could happen to creatives: this pursue towards new is oftentimes fuelled by discontent with the present situation.

As a consequence, the critic voice that lives in the head of a person who scores high on neuroticism destabilises the person emotionally at times.

Why am I telling you about the psychology of creative people?

Because 1. I’m trying to transfer knowledge to you, if you feel like this background info can help. For myself, I like background information on something that’s very likely to be in a person so that it can help me navigate towards the best result for both.

2. My point was to simply say that they are susceptible to negative emotion. I went through the full story about openness to explain how these are highly correlated but in a sentence, it’s that.

Now, why would that matter? Once again, the person you’re talking to is there because they stood the test of time. In their past experience, they’ve most likely come to learn the effects of not speaking up when they see something wrong with a client request.

Practical example: client made some requests on whatever this creative delivered. She thought it got in the way of the goal (be it business goal or not at that moment in time), but whatever — gotta have a satisfied client (agreeableness, another trait of the Big Five)

Time went on and because to the changes, business goal is not met anymore. Negative emotion ensues.

Now, with time, this person learned that it’s either push back and decide together with the client if their assumption makes business sense — and maybe sometimes bring business sense into the conversation — or risk the success rate of their project.

When agency people push back on you…

… they don’t (necessarily) do that because they think they’re so smart and everyone should listen to them — there are exceptions, of course, I’ll rely on your common sense to weed that out. Rather, the purpose of pushback (if done properly) is to take a step back and make sure the focus is on what matters.

Much like what I noted in part 1 of this multi-post, if the client mentions that a new website should be designed because “the aunt and uncle said it’s ugly and not modern” — that doesn’t make any business sense at all.

Yes, it’s easy for us to judge that from the outside — but trust me, it happens more often than you think in an actual engagement. Sure, the aunt and uncle example is a stretched one for the sake of illustrating but the objection can even be something as follows:

“Well I don’t like this logo becuase it doesn’t click.”

That’s not absurd and it can be said by any CEO.

However, is the logo for the CEO or for their users/customers? That’s the purpose of pushback from agency people.

The bottom line

The agency people that you’ll want to work with will push back on your ideas. Politely, not in a rude or aggressive way. If anything, very direct but that’s about it.

They do that because they’ve been through experience where they let courtesy reign over business sense. And because of their nature, they associated that with negative emotion (as they’re likely to be prone to it).

As a consequence, whenever they think there’s no business sense behind a possible decision, they will stand up and make sure it’s brought back.

About Ch Daniel

I run Chagency_, an experiences design agency that specialises on helping tech CEOs reduce user churn. We’re building the bible of experiences.

If I’ve brought you any kind of value, follow me and get in touch here: LinkedIn | Twitter | Email | Quora | Mailing List |YouTube (same content but in video)

Illustration Credits: Jim Gris



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