What makes a good client and agency relationship?

We attended a panel session hosted by Ben Martin of Royal Flush Marketing, which looked to uncover those things that make for a great agency and client relationship. It’s a relationship that, when it works, can lead to the delivery of amazing creative with excellent results for the client. But like any relationship, there can be frustrations that result in road blocks and a less than satisfying experience for everyone involved.

The speakers were a mixed bag of agency folk (Neil Marra of Creative Spark, and Sarah Lawless of BIG Partnership), marketing managers (Sarah Glynn of Kuits Solicitors and Nick Copeland of Premex Group) and those who get to see both sides of the coin (Mike Carter of Orchard).

Here are a few things we learnt from the session.

Openness, honesty and communication

It’s not rocket science – often it’s the softer skills that make for a successful agency/client relationship. Both sides need to be super transparent about their processes. Whether that’s agencies being honest about how big their team is, or being upfront if they need to act more as a consultant in some areas and bring in specialist support. Or clients being open about their payment process from the start so that the agency isn’t left puzzled post project delivery as to why their final invoice hasn’t been paid yet.

Be proactive

As an agency, are you getting under the skin of your client’s business or brand and really understanding what they do? Clients want to feel reassured that you get them, and that when you recommend things it’s because you feel it will work for their business specifically, not because you want to up-sell additional services. They want to feel wowed that you’ve come in and told them things that they wouldn’t have thought about themselves.

Likewise a client needs to be proactive in getting feedback from any senior members of their team, and pushing to drive the project so that the agency doesn’t feel abandoned or that their work is falling on deaf ears.


Pitching is always going to be tricky 

A marketing team aren’t necessarily looking for an agency with the biggest clients on their roster when you pitch to them. They want to understand how you’ve solved problems and challenges for previous clients and understand how you’d make them feel valued.  On the flip side, agencies shouldn’t be expected to pitch ideas just to be part of a beauty parade. It’s pretty soul destroying to put your all into a pitch only to find out via a quick email that you weren’t successful, or sometimes not even receive a response at all.

Chemistry and culture is key 

From both sides, a huge part of the agency/client relationship is about chemistry and culture fit. Take time to go and meet your client, or your agency, before deciding on whether to work together. If conversation flows and you get on, it’s like any other first date – you’re going to want to see them again! If you feel your business values align and your personalities click, it’s going to make for an easier, more fruitful working relationship moving forward.

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