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Getting the most out of Agency Days

How do people feel about Agency Days? Last week we attended an all day briefing session organized by one of our lovely clients.  12 agencies in a room together to hear the challenges and strategy for 2011.  By a conservative estimate, the combined day rate for the talent, from social media advisors to data crunchers, in that room was about £20,000.

Was it worth it?  Well, from our point of view it’s actually extremely useful to see other agencies in action.  The trouble with being on our side of the fence is that you don’t get to see your competition.  So being exposed to the talent that resides in our industry and weighing yourself up against them is actually a really valuable exercise.   And of course understanding the broader context in which your work sits is always helpful.

From the client’s perspective they got a huge number of ideas to tackle some of their issues.  The challenge is making any of it happen.  That, in my view, is the sticking point about the value of these days.  You get to hear about the clients’ overall direction, you get to meet your peers.  But what we really want to do after a session like that is to get on with some work.  Which means the client’s got to decide who they want to do what, and by when.  Otherwise, without decisions being made, all those ideas will end up in the file marked ‘for interest only’.   And ultimately, although it’s fun having a day out of the office doing blue sky thinking, it’s not motivating to produce ideas which never get off the flip chart.

Have other agency people had similar experiences?  Do any of you clients out there know any good ways to ensure the best ideas from Away Days are actioned?