Getting the Most Out of Your Agency (and Client) Relationships

Since re-joining the Agency world after working on the client side, I have been thinking a lot out of how Agencies and Clients can work together to develop get the most out of their relationship – and develop more meaningful marketing campaigns. We all know any relationship is a two-way street and just like any relationship, client-agency ones require effort on both sides. What clients can do to get the most out of their agency:

1) Involve your agency at the beginning of an idea or need? Don’t try and think it completely through and reach out to them for copywriting and design only. Use them as a strategic partner that involves taking the business strategy and identifying the audiences, relevant message points and developing the positioning. When you do it yourself, you’re missing the real value an agency should be bringing to the table.

2) Communication. Ok, this seems like a given, but I can say that even after working on the client side after a decade on the agency side – I still forgot to communicate about things that didn’t directly impact what I was working with them on. For example, include them on business strategy, proprietary research, industry news, insight from customer meetings, etc. All of this will help the agency understand your business even better, which will lead to more strategic marketing campaigns.

3) Provide direct input and feedback. As anyone on the client side can relate to, when you are working with your internal teams, reading minds and inconsistent or fuzzy input only leads to wasted time. Spend the time to deliver complete, well thought through input and don’t be afraid to be direct.

What agencies can do to build better client relationships:

1) Get in their shoes. Working on the client side in many ways is similar to agency roles. They have internal clients that they have to build relationships and meet their needs in the same way that you do. Sometimes that means a change in directions and unanticipated timing.

2) Build trust and continually strive to make them look good. This means really understanding their needs both as a company and individually. What is not only keeping them awake, but what items can you work on with them with that help propel them (and that they may not have time for)? What just needs to get done and where should the real thinking time be spent?

3) Think about their business all of the time. Not just the work, but also their business. Read the industry publications, get connected into the related Social Networking sites and feeds, go to their industry events. Take that knowledge and consistently talk to them about what you see happening and how that affects their business. Develop ideas with them of how you can utilize that knowledge and deliver on it.

The most fulfilling partnerships are those in which each party contributes to a singular great outcome. Those are how the great moments are made. You don’t always get to choose who you work with, but you do have a say in which agency partner you work with. Look for an agency that you really can partner – whom you feel truly has your back. Then, start looking forward to the positive outcomes you’ll have.