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.
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.
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.
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.