Can we be friends? Exploring the client agency dynamic

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Can we be friends?

Much has been written lately about challenges with client and agency relationships.  If you believe everything you read, the sky is falling.  A new procurement-lead world will eliminate the value of relationships and continue to squeeze more from agencies with less resources.  Everything will become project-based and campaigns will be transactional, leaving little to no time for agencies to create long-term value for the brands they represent.

Not so fast.

While we recognize that contracting budgets do require agencies to be more agile with their solutions, that doesn’t mean a friendly realationship based on mutual respect and understanding can’t exist between client and agency.  We’re proud to consider a number of our clients “friends” and believe that when the working relationship is right, not only do we enjoy greater success together, but we also enjoy the journey a whole lot more.


Unique Ability

We subscribe to a methodology developed by Dan Sullivan called Unique Ability.  Dan has taught entrepreneurs for over 35 years through his Strategic Coach platform.  The basic premise is that in order to truly succeed, we should be doing what we are uniquely good at doing.

Everyone has a unique ability.  They are successful in their position because they have developed a skill set that allows them to do their job effectively.  Hopefully when using that skill set, it brings them a sense of pride and satisfaction.  The more time people spend doing what they are uniquely good at, the more valued they feel.

In an ideal relationship, clients and agencies get to understand and respect each other’s unique abilities and work together towards creating meaningful campaigns that address the challenges or objectives at hand.

As an agency, we like to think that we’re an extension of our client’s team. This is a great foundation to build a relationship on. Clients have a healthy appreciation for what their agencies bring to the table and offer them the opportunity to share their expertise and use their unique abilities.  At the same time, agencies gain a deeper understanding of the day-to-day demands of their clients and learn to understand their overall goals and challenges; not just those of a particular project.



As an agency, we’re most effective when our clients are transparent with their wants and needs. Do you know what you want and need your agency to execute? Are you relying on the agency to come up with a strategy to solve a particular business challenge? Do you want to be involved in the process, or do you expect the agency to come back with a plan that you can review and sign-off on? Maybe it’s somewhere in between.  You have an idea of what you want, but expect the agency to enhance the idea by using their unique ability and experience.

This can be accomplished in a number of ways – the most simple being a collaborative briefing, in which the agency can review, question or even challenge your brief to ensure that the requirements and expecations are clear.  When both client and agency align early on, everyone is more efficient with their time which results in money saved on planning and revisions.


We’re all human.

Agency folks are often treated like referees.  They only get noticed if they make a bad call.  Working in an agency requires a thick skin, but it still feels great to celebrate success together, even for a short time.  Never underestimate the power of a positive email or phone call.

People naturally work harder for those who treat them well. A little bit of praise will go a long way with your agency team. We’re not afraid of the client / agency friend dynamic.  We think it’s healthy.  Plus – we never want to let our friends down.


Let’s talk

This may sound simple, but we should spend time together.  We can come to you or you can hang at our office if you’d like a change of scenery… we’ll even provide treats!  Face time between client and agency teams reminds everyone that we’re real people and allows us to have open, respectful conversations that often spawn great ideas.  It’s also just more efficient.

I promise that if we book an hour and only need 40 minutes, we’ll refund you the gift of unused time.

Influence was born an experiential marketing agency.  We value live human engagement above any other method of communication.  It’s not only a powerful tool in connecting brands and consumers, we think it helps build relationships between clients and agencies.


Managing Expectations

We don’t try to do everything, but what we do, we do well.  We’re not afraid to speak up if we’re being asked to box above our weight class.  Ideally, you are managing your agency’s expectations as well.  Do you need support with ideas and concepts you aren’t sure how to execute?  Or maybe a collaborative white board session to spitball ideas at an earlier stage?  We love being a part of the process.  And a part of the solution.

So, don’t believe the hype.  We’ve found a number of clients that are keen to dig in with us.  They believe it’s their agency’s responsibility to challenge when justified because working collaboratively will inevitably lead to a better result.  It also allows you, the client, to see if your agency actually has the chops to earn your trust.

Two parties each using their unique abilities to build engaging and effective programming and developing relationships along the way – now that’s a vision on the future of client-agency relationships that we can get behind.

Reach out to Influence with all inquiries:

Innovation, Inspiration and Collaboration: IHA 2019

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Destination Chicago: International Home + Housewares Show 2019
It’s the place where art intersects with engineering; where technology informs style, and where exhibitors display innovation.

As an agency firmly planted in the housewares industry, the International Home and Housewares Show is a must attend to show support for our current clients, and a place to search for future collaborations.

Since 1927, the International Housewares Association (IHA) has hosted one of the United States’ largest trade shows, based out of sweet-home Chicago.

This year’s trade show featured over 2,200 companies from nearly 50 different countries, with an attendance of well over 60,000 people. The products showcased throughout the expansive halls of North America’s largest convention center fell under a variety of categories, including tabletop / kitchen essentials, cooking / bakeware, cleaning, appliances, robotics and smart home products.

The show aims to bring home and housewares manufacturers to a central location to display their best and most innovative products annually. This includes updating the industry with future market trends, and introducing how technology has maneuvered itself to the forefront of new innovation, highlighted by this year’s theme, “IT’S SMART.”

Brace yourself, you will need the four days to capture this in full. From celebrity chef theatres, educational workshops, and innovative theatre topics, to the smart home pavilion, and the brilliant vendor exhibits throughout the event. Truly the best of the best. 

Show Highlights:

Smeg USA:

Their fashion designed Dolce & Gabbana line is nothing short of pure artistry, while for higher caliber clientele, Smeg’s bar fridges – featured in all Virgin hotel properties – are beautiful, handy, and attainable.

The  20/20 Colour Story:

Where vibrant patterns of paisley meet the dynamic solids of yellow, pink and teal, to adorn the countertops for this upcoming season. Inspiration for appliance design is being drawn from all kinds of undiscovered territories – how many can say they’ve seen a tattoo-inspired popcorn maker. Gone are the days with limited selection – enter a year filled with customization and variety. (Echelon Reflect):

Smart mirror display that transforms from a conventional mirror into a video fitness training system. Now you can see yourself with a virtual trainer, competing and hitting your goals from the comfort of your own home; perfect for the time-starved new moms, sore from a fantastic trade show!

Express Yourself:

Among the buzz-worthy themes at the show is a new trend that allows customers to express their own personality and tastes with unique “do it yourself” kits. This includes everything from creating your own signature whiskey, to chai teas and 3D cupcakes. Just don’t consume together.

A Breath of Fresh Air:

Several product categories seem ready to explode based on the number of companies introducing their own unique versions. These include products to improve the air quality of your home using humidifiers, aroma diffusers and air purifiers, as well as air fryers which count your calories while cooking, keeping a smart journal for a year based on your consumption. This definitely confirms the saying, “abs are made in the kitchen.”

Eco Watch:

Mixed materials were also found in many of the merchandise on display, including several eco-friendly products with clever usages such as aprons made from recycled plastic, reusable food wrap made from beeswax, eco-friendly straws in a variety of colours and storage baskets made from a new material called cellulose nanofiber.

Overall, the home housewares industry continues its streak of growth, hitting an average lift of 5% year over year. The IHA show demonstrates the need for brands to have a focused marketing strategy throughout the year to stay competitive in the market, and keep sales consistent.

As an integrated marketing agency, we need to rethink the way we approach this category. It’s very cluttered and brands need a targeted marketing strategy which includes understanding purchase behaviours, influencers, motivators and channel dynamics, in order to rise above the clutter and win at shelf.

Interesting Insights:

  • Espresso makers grew 33% in ’18 with a 16% higher sale price
  • 36% of Juice extractor sales came from online purchases
  • 73% of all toaster ovens sold were a planned purchase
  • 40% of dinnerware is sold between August and October
Reach out to Influence with all inquiries:

Beer, music and great engagement opportunities at Toronto’s Festival of Beer

By | Blog
As a lover of beer and music, Toronto’s Festival of Beer (TFOB) is one event that I never miss. I’ve been attending the event for a number of years and as both a guest and a marketer, it’s been satisfying to see the festival evolve. In addition to new brews and an increasingly impressive musical lineup, TFOB has brought something new to keep me engaged year over year; and with nearly 40,000 people in attendance, engagement is critical.

Over the past several years, TFOB has become an important event for our clients. We have a large, targeted audience to work with, and the better part of a day to have them engage with our clients’ brands. In 2018, we had three large activations at TFOB. That number may double for 2019.

The Palm Bay Refresh Station:

TFOB takes place in July. It’s hot, and while we all love beer – sometimes we need a break from it. The Palm Bay Refresh Station offered consumers (with the focus on women) the opportunity to refresh themselves from the scorching July heat. Complimentary deodorant, sunscreen and dry shampoo offered a moment of personal refreshment, while our ice-cold Palm Bay slushies provided a cool treat to cleanse your beer-soaked palate.

The Jameson Caskmates Games Lounge

Jameson Caskmates is a wonderfully smooth Irish Whiskey that’s aged in craft stout-seasoned barrels, adding rich flavours of coffee, cocoa and a gentle hint of hops. It pairs exceptionally well with beer and we wanted to tell that story to beer drinkers.

We also recognized that our target consumer is likely to enjoy a pint and a dram together at home with friends – either watching the game on TV, or playing cards and board games.

The Jameson Caskmates Games Lounge offered TFOB guests a chance to get out of the sun and play a few rounds of cards (with a beer + Jameson Caskmates), simulating a typical consumption occasion. Jameson was poured into a “hitchhiker” shot glass, which conveniently hung from the side of the beer mug, giving the brand a strong visual presence throughout the festival.

Fireside Cannabis

With the legalization of recreational cannabis owning the headlines last summer, we wanted to make sure that TFOB attendees had Fireside in mind when the big day arrived on October 17th.

In an effort to position Fireside’s “vibe” and usage occasion, we setup two firepits surrounded by Muskoka chairs. Guests could grab a S’mores kit, pull up a chair, and enjoy the unmistakable sounds and smells of the fire. We even left a couple of guitars out in case someone wanted to jam.

Our on-site promotion helped us capture consumer data in exchange for chances to win some great Fireside-branded gear. Guests feeling creative could create a charm using beads and branded “wood cookies” to hang off their beer mug, or challenge a friend to a game of Giant Jenga.

We’ve found a great partner in TFOB. They’ve allowed us the opportunity to keep their audience engaged by bringing unique experiences to the festival, while also allowing us to tell our client’s stories in a meaningful way.

If you would like to discuss how Influence can create a great consumer experience for your brand at TFOB, please feel free to send me a note.

Reach out to Influence with all inquiries: