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5 Steps to more productive client and agency relationships

Updated: Jun 4

There is a time when every relationship needs more than just great sex and spontaneity to survive. It’s no different for the relationship between marketers and their agencies; except for the sex bit perhaps?

In pursuit of settling more quickly into a productive working relationship both parties need to identify and work through the things that unsettle relationships be they: a new client win, dreaded agency reviews, the introduction of new account staff or procurement governance.

So for all the effort agencies make to be attractive in order to get a ‘first date’ with marketers, the long-term value is a productive, collaborative relationship.

Here a five steps towards achieving this.

#1 Start with a brief that…

…Is clear. Start from the very beginning, set the overall objectives not just those of the project deliverables

…Is conditional in that roles and responsibilities of both the agency and client are clarified

…Is realistic. Consider that deliverables and scope with available time and budget have been evaluated realistically.

#2 Select your agency objectively

Certainly there’ll be preferred agency partners but encourage alternative agency responses and approaches and evaluate agencies based on their response. Do away with ‘oranges versus oranges’ evaluation and be brave to select your agency; don’t just go with the preferred partner for convenience, select the agency that best meets your overall requirements and long term value.

#3 Keep performance evaluation simple

After commercial terms are defined, it should be made clear…

…what the agency is aiming to accomplish

…how both agency and client will know if they are successful

#4 Be anxiety aware

There are key moments in the agency/client relationship where the anxiety gap is at its widest, narrowest and moments when highest anxiety swaps from client to agency.

Typically, at the very start of an agency/client relationship the anxiety gap is at its widest with marketers having put their faith into a new relationship (the ‘asking out’ bit) but conversely agencies feeling the least concern at this stage.

Be aware how, overtime, the anxiety gap narrows and inevitably flips needing both parties to be wholly aware of how each other is feeling.

#5 Pay a fair price

Agencies take care to support their clients. Creative concepts and solutions, evaluation and reporting feeds an agency and fuels client business. Unsustainable work is work that costs more than it returns. Both client and agency must feel they’re both getting something out of the relationship to sustain a long term future together.

So there it is.

Five steps to enlightenment.

Who’s in for a first date?


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