According to the 2020 CMO survey, more than 34% of marketers are currently 'not satisfied' with their agency partners.
Like any relationship really, client-agency partnerships are easy to start but hard to perfect. A real agency partner should feel like part of your team and should be assessed as such. Still, in an over-saturated industry, information overload can make it hard to get a view on who is actually the right fit.
In our latest paper, we're talking to network members Lesniak Swann, Velstar and Tangent alongside their clients about how they've maintained a strong, trusting, effective relationship over time. From their conversations and our own research, we've compiled the key points of a strong client-agency relationship below.
Download Mutual Success: Building Effective Relationships with Agency Partners
Transparency on what can and can't be done
Both sides of the partnership need to be honest about what can and can't be done during the initial briefing process. According to the Velstar team, "All too often, we hear about agencies who promise the world, but deliver very little. This can be avoided if you realistically manage expectations and are truthful about what you can achieve.
Equally though, a brand needs to be open and honest with an agency, too, regarding business updates, feedback and any changes that they might need to know about. The agency is working hard to help the client achieve the results they want, but to do this they need honesty and the most-up-to-date business information."
Read: Velstar and Meglio's Mutual Success Story
Regular communication (that fits your work culture)
Though communication in a client-agency relationship might seem obvious, the important piece here is defining what 'regular' means to you. If you're a business that likes to operate on efficient, need-to-know comms, you need an agency partner that isn't going to bombard you daily with questions. However, if you're a team that like to work everything from a single shared channel, you need to find an agency that can accommodate this.
Tangent's client, UK Power Networks, said 'To be able to know that I can speak to anyone at any time of the day or night is priceless. I speak to Aidan all the time since he’s always available and approachable. I really feel that Tangent does something that we don’t see very often in that they go above and beyond. When I need something done, I don’t have to worry.'
Understand each other's businesses
As Lesniak Swann client Nuaire said, 'Ventilation isn’t a sexy industry. So having an agency who completely understands us, our customers, the solutions we offer, and the market means half the battle is already done.'
On the flip side, it's also crucial for the brand to understand the agency set-up and approach inside out. Understanding their schedule, process and capacity is key to ensure your own expectations align with what's possible to deliver and by when.
Open and honest discussion
While the client is the expert on the business, the agency is - more often than not - the expert when it comes to the tactics employed in the strategy. Providing space for both the agency and client to challenge each other and assess performance together is key to keeping lines of communication open and insightful, but also for delivering work that is successful long term. This might mean quarterly catch-ups designed to iron out kinks in the relationship, or just regular honest communication.
If you'd like to assess your own client-agency relationship, we've included our agency evaluation checklist at the end of the Mutual Success paper.
Looking for advice on whether you're getting the best from your own client-agency relationship? Our team are available any time for chat and unbiased advice on what you should be expecting from your partners. Learn more about GO! and what we offer here.