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I used to have a friend named Mark. Mark was a band leader for a national talk show house band, a touring musician, and a session singer in Los Angeles and New York.

I had worked with Mark on a commercial music project in Los Angeles. I thought he was really good. Then, by coincidence, I was working with a music house in New York, and we needed a male backup singer. They called "this guy" they knew. And a few minutes later, who shows up, but my old pal Mark from Los Angeles. We got to talking during a break, and Mark said something really interesting.

"I work in New York about 40 percent of the time. And I work in LA about forty percent of the time. The other ten percent, I work in my home studio in Jackson, Mississippi." Then came the awesome part. "My Jackson clients," he said, "end up paying a lot less."

This gets me to something I've been observing for decades. Clients who don't know how to evaluate value insist on paying more for brand names (New York and Los Angeles), because:

A. they don't know what they don't know
B. they don't trust the agency to know what they don't know
C. they believe that if they paid more for it, it must have been better
D. they believe the really good stuff comes from New York or LA.
E. because they don't know how much things should cost, any amount is a LOT, but they know they can justify the spend to their bosses if they went to New York to spend a lot of money (versus staying in Jackson, or wherever, to spend comparatively less, but still a "lot")

In the above example, you'd get exactly the same music with exactly the same talent for a lot less in Jackson, MS. But unless you had confidence in your agency and your own ears, it might be too risky to go with that. So, you pay more for no increase in value of deliverables.

We've seen that a lot. I need to go with a "bigger" agency (meaning, an agency with a visible address, an agency with a big sign, an agency with a big-name client in their portfolio, an agency with a basketball court and pinball parlor in the middle of their creative department, an agency with guys with grey hair and nice suits, an agency with just depends on the client). But whatever irrelevant criteria are involved, they will translate into this: client pays more without getting more because they don't know what they don't know.

To resolve this, you need to do some gutsy things:

1. Have an agency you trust
2. Have an understanding between yourself and your agency regarding what is right for you and your brand
3. Trust your own eyes and ears.

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