Client-Agency Relationships – It takes two to tango!

Published September 8, 2017

UK digital advertising spend is estimated to grow by 11% in 2017, and with a plethora of digital marketing disciplines to choose from, few businesses have the resources to master all of those disciplines in-house. Choosing between contractors, freelancers and agencies can be a daunting task. This article focuses on the client-agency relationship and discusses what it takes to make the relationship work from both sides of the fence.

 

There are some not-so-nice clients out there and some agencies that just don’t deliver!

 

The question is how can clients and agencies build great relationships and successful outcomes? As with all serious relationships, professional or otherwise, trust is an important component. The best and most successful relationships are those where both parties treat each other as partners, working towards clear achievable goals and taking a transparent approach to the working relationships. There needs to be genuine trust between both parties.

Agencies that are not transparent in their approach, or resistant to healthy debate, risk alienating clients. On the other side of the coin, clients who treat an agency as just another supplier and hold them to unreasonable expectations is counter productive and unlikely to motivate the team to go the extra mile.

Romance Stage: If either party is not feeling that personal chemistry, then it’s best not to engage. The criteria you apply to choose your agency should be more than the competitiveness or value of the proposal. The right chemistry and culture can play a crucial role in the relationship and ultimate success of the project.  Take time to include and evaluate what personal characteristics are important to you and your business.

Don’t choose to save a few pounds over working with an agency that will make your working experience a more joyful one. Great experiences ultimately lead to great outcomes!

Power Struggle: One of the biggest hiccups in the client-agency relationship is when agencies don’t meet client expectations. This is often due to unclear expectations being set and agreed at the start of the project. Clients need to openly share all relevant information, especially if the agency is being engaged to do something where the client has failed to achieve success, either with an internal resource or a previous agency. Information is powerful; withholding it, and assuming the agency will figure it out, can be detrimental.

Agencies need to be transparent and honest about the chances of success and how the client’s goals are going to be achieved. The more you share with the client, the more you can build trust. The more trust you can build, the greater chance that if expectations are not met, the client will be open to constructive dialogue on how to move forward.

Stability: Establishing a productive, successful relationship should go beyond price. Every company is looking for competitive rates and value for money, but choosing an agency just because they are the cheapest is not the smartest move. Good agencies know what it takes to deliver on a project and will price accordingly.

Generally speaking, the saying that “you get what you pay for” is true!  And if both parties are aligned on this principle, this makes for a fruitful and stable relationship.

Commitment: Engaging and building commitment requires honesty, and that goes for both clients and agencies. Both must be able to take honest criticism or it will make it much harder for both parties to deliver positive outcomes. The ‘no holds barred’ honest appraisal is the only way to engage in a client agency relationship. It will also ensure goals and expectations are set against a realistic starting point. It shows that both parties are committed to the success of the project.

Bliss: The path to a blissful relationship is to avoid scope creep and to respect each other’s time. The tighter the brief, the less chance there is of the scope getting out of hand, and the better chance there is of meeting a client’s expectations. Once the scope of the project has been agreed, no matter how small it is, the agency should provide a very clear and concise brief for both parties to sign before work starts. Sometimes there are new features or ideas that need to be added, but clients should be made aware how that will impact the timeframe and the cost. This level of formality helps to ensure both parties enjoy a blissfully productive relationship.

mad4digital nurture great relationships with some amazing clients from many different sectors built on trust, transparency, and honesty.

If you would like to tango with mad4digital, please contact dwhyte@www.mad4digital.com