Jared Belsky Explains Why Marketers “Get the Agency They Deserve”
6 mins read

Jared Belsky Explains Why Marketers “Get the Agency They Deserve”

Jared Belsky, Founder & CEO of Acadia, the recently launched and highly successful Atlanta-based agency, has been on both the client and agency sides during his career. He believes that marketers often are trained in every aspect of their business except managing their ad agencies. His latest book, You Get the Agency You Deserve, offers both practical and emotional lessons on how to improve client-agency relationships.

He says, “Marketers are unwittingly causing their own destruction. The 18-month average agency tenure triggers an economic destruction that few executives appreciate or understand how to solve. 
He considers this “both the single biggest problem and opportunity confronting an embattled marketing profession.”  It is also points to why the average CMOs lasts just two years in their job. 

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 Interestingly, Jared Belsky interviewed 300 marketing executives as background for his latest book. Not a single person said they were trained in managing agency relationships. However, 86% admitted to wanting to do this part of their jobs better. He also believes that there are only two types of client accounts at an agency. “There are accounts where A+ players want to run to and work on, and then there are accounts where people raise their hands by the minute to rotate off. It’s that simple. The greatest velocity of work gravitates toward the best clients. The best and most thoughtfully written contracts and staffing models create the best work for clients.”

In You Get the Agency You Deserve: 20 Practical and Emotional Lessons to Maximize Your Agency and Partner Relationship, Jared Belsky outlines a plan for activating how agencies can be a transformative asset for any brand. It starts with understanding how to engage in a SOW/MSA negotiation– so it doesn’t destroy trust, shifting from coercive to curious leadership, viewing agencies as critical support, and focusing on understanding the source of different perspectives and ideas. Other shifts involve starting with a systematic, two-way onboarding and setting agencies up to collaborate for the good of the brand rather than compete for their own P&Ls. 

To learn more from Jared Belsky about how marketers can maintain stronger relationships with their agencies, watch the video interview on Internationalist Marketing TV (IMTV) on YouTube by CLICKING HERE.

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In our conversation, we discuss the following:
  • The title of your book is a popular expression in the industry, but often used as a “throw-away line” rather than a suggestion on how to do things better. Why write this now? Do you think that client-agency relationships are at a low point? Or more confusing given so many technological and social shifts? 
  • You’ve been on the client side and the agency side, but your book suggests that few marketers are trained in managing agency relationships. Why? 
  • Your book offers 20 Practical and Emotional Lessons on how to create better partnerships. What is #1 on your list or the first place where marketers should begin?  
  • You discuss many specifics– from the impact of budget size to who gets to work for which brand. And you provide examples. Plus, you emphasize that clients “shouldn’t tell the agency the answer but share the challenge.” Talk about this… 
  • You also interviewed 300 marketers for the book. Can you share some of the insights or conversation excerpts that stood out most dramatically to you? 
  • You are Founder and CEO of a relatively new Atlanta-based agency—Acadia, started in the summer of 2021. Acadia has had an extraordinary rate of growth—in the first six months, 100 employees and four acquisitions. Acadia’s description is also “client centric” as A Modern Digital Agency Obsessed with Your Growth. Is that why Acadia is so successful?  
  • One of your recommendations is to “Treat Your Agency as an Extension of Your Team.” I’m curious, given the current trend toward in-house agencies, do you believe that marketers are equipped to create their own in-house agencies? Or, if clients take your advice about making an agency part of their team, do they need an in-house agency? 
  • You’ve also been quoted as saying, “Therapy is cheaper than divorce.” Do you offer your clients “therapy” on how to be a better client? Or do you advocate for independent agency relationship consulting?
Or tune in to our Trendsetters podcast…. 

Listen to Jared Belsky and The Internationalist’s entire Trendsetters podcast series here on iHeartRadio’s Spreaker or wherever you download your podcasts. TRENDSETTERS: Jared Belsky Explains Why Marketers “Get the Agency They Deserve”

 As a 28-year-old, Jared Belsky joined the Coca-Cola company where he was rigorously trained in all aspects of brand management and navigating the company– except for how to manage the agency. He admits to making “every mistake from bad briefings to bad behavior” in managing a $10 million budget and 10-person Starcom Mediavest team. His insights on the client side, and later the agency side, led him to see how marketers can get more from their agency relationships.

Throughout this career, Jared Belsky has been honored as one of the industry’s top leaders and original thinkers, including an Internationalist Agency Innovator. Before starting Acadia, he was CEO of 360i, a one-thousand person digital marketing agency named to the Ad Age A-List eight times. He has also been honored as one of Campaign’s “40 Over 40,” Ad Age’s “40 Under 40,” and Adweek’s Media All-Star for multiple years. 

He also serves on the board of EIG (Emory Impact Investing Group), which facilitates grants to entrepreneurs unable to get typical loans.