Tense Client/Agency Relationships? Some matrimonial advice.

Tense Client/Agency Relationships? Some matrimonial advice.

Finding the perfect client or agency is not easy. And as with any couple, it takes effort from both so that the relationship doesn’t deteriorate and evolves positively towards happiness.
Not being marriage counselors, at 9 we have learned a few tricks over the last 22 years of our existence, after some more troubled relationships and others that still endure, full of enthusiasm, since our foundation.

 

Finding the perfect client or agency is not easy. And as with any couple, it takes effort from both so that the relationship doesn’t deteriorate and evolves positively towards happiness.

Not being marriage counselors, at 9 we have learned a few tricks over the last 22 years of our existence, after some more troubled relationships and others that still endure, full of enthusiasm, since our foundation.

At a time when all that has been caused by the pandemic has not helped those involved either personally or professionally to live together, we thought we could try to list some tips and help spur the love between agency and client.

Analogies aside, client and agency have a fundamental role, so that their relationship works and can generate the best results. As good marriage counselors tell us, this relationship is composed of a strong human relationship (which as the name says is “human”), that requires trust, mutual respect, honesty and some chemistry, but it is also composed of professional tools that help avoid complications, obstacles, miscommunication and, above all, guide the parties towards a common goal of success, the most basic of which is the client briefing.

Often, the laziest, most unfocused or time-constrained clients will tell the agency that asks them for help with briefing details: “You’re the creatives!” The truth is that this is just a common way of getting away with something basic, pushing the responsibility to just one element of the couple.

 

The truth is that the client plays a key role in every detail of the projects with the agency. Which?

 

The client should always help the agency! It’s very strange if a client doesn’t know his business better than his agency does. And good marketing directors know that with the help of an agency and good teamwork you can go further, building amazing projects by overlapping the skills of both. That’s why they focus on helping, on getting obstacles out of the agency’s way, introducing them to the right people and information to bring them down, so that they both become winners.

The client must trust the agency. For an agency to do excellent work, the client must share all necessary information, even the most confidential information if it relates to the goals in project.

The client must be constructive and honest in its feedback. Differences of opinion are part of human nature, and when we work closely together they will come up at any time. This also happens in client-agency relationships, and just as in couples, one should be honest, understanding, constructive, and talking is the best way to overcome and resolve issues and crises.

The client should be available to respond. Also related to feedback, is the client’s availability to answer questions no matter how silly they seem, to have the patience to explain details and discuss still boiling ideas. It is often in these meanderings that the best attack strategies emerge, the ones that can make the difference.

The client must respect the agency’s business as he likes his own to be respected. Just like any business, an agency is not profitable and cannot afford to waste time and allocate unlimited resources to disorganized projects that have no legs to stand on or were simply not decided by the right people and are later cancelled. In the same way an agency must be paid on time, just as the client likes to be paid, and as is contracted (not least because in a close relationship going after the client asking for money that is owed, is a very unpleasant role for the agency).

But the agency must also take everything it does very seriously! How?

The agency must be very demanding with itself. Studying in detail the client’s business, its objectives, positioning, and understanding exactly why it was chosen and what the client expects from it.

The agency must define clear, realistic and achievable objectives, sharing them with the client before starting work. You must define what success means for both of you so that you are clear on when you get there.

The agency must assemble the teams of specialists tailored to the client’s needs and understand if they are up to the challenge on a recurring basis.

The agency must design or implement the methodology needed to respond to the agreement with the client.

The agency must write down everything it has agreed with the clientand confirm it. So that client, agency and teams are all on the same page.

The agency should share progress regularlywith the client, and honestly. Saying what you need to work better is always a win win situation.

The agency should surprise the client whenever it has the opportunity. Or it should create those opportunities to surprise.

Now, just as with couples, there are tricks to making sure that agency-client relationships don’t fail, fail less, or each goes their own happy way:

Agree on the kind of commitment. If the client doesn’t know what he wants, the agency is hardly going to guess. Not leaving open briefs, open budgets, open contexts, open goals,…will help and help a lot.

Talk! There’s nothing like a little socializing for the parties to get to know each other better, gain trust between them, and still share a little bit of their visions.

Likewise, if one party does all the work non-stop and the other stands by without ever giving feedback throughout the process, the relationship is going to get complicated.

No superiority complexes. No honest client should expect the agency to master their industry and sector in detail, nor should any agency pretend to know it. The reverse also applies. A relationship where it’s okay to ask questions always works best.

Be human. On both sides are people who get it right, make mistakes, have lives of their own, are constantly learning, and are generous when engaging in team projects. Even if things do not develop well and the couple decides to separate, they should do so respectfully and in an adult manner.

 

In conclusion, there are no perfect client-agency relationships, but there are relationships doomed from the start that need not be. The secret to successful professional relationships lies in common effort and respect, so that campaigns, strategies, business results, live happily ever after. And sometimes it is enough to neglect one of the topics raised here to damage them.

 

By the way, if you are (agency) single, looking for a fruitful and exciting relationship, at 9 we are available to commit. Call us!