client-agency relationship concept illustration

Four Tips For A Successful (and Lasting) Client-­Agency Relationship

Despite a changing landscape, evolving technology and the growing influence of digital and social channels, the formula for a great client­-agency relationship goes back to the basics. It’s not enough to establish a relationship; a lasting partnership must be nurtured to foster growth and ensure longevity.

Agencies and clients alike aim to reach goals, meet deadlines, drive revenue and gain a competitive edge. But what, then is the secret to joint client-­agency success? Follow the four tips below and you’ll be well on your way.

1. Set the Stage

Your relationship is almost bound to fail if you get off on the wrong foot. Any agency that doesn’t aim to understand your business, your goals and your expectations right off the bat is raising a major red flag. In fact, ninety percent of agencies today believe they truly understand their client’s business, but only 65% of clients agree.

That’s why it is important to partner with an advertising agency that has structured processes in place and makes a point to immediately determine how success will be measured, what KPIs are valued and what deliverables are expected. Offer guidance, and have the critical conversations early on to understand how both businesses can flourish and go forth toward an aligned end goal.

At Innovative Advertising, we’ve developed a client onboarding program to help new partnerships get off to a great start. Our onboarding program lays the groundwork for clear communication by allowing agency and client teams to get familiar, identify opportunities and exchange information.

2. Communication and Trust

Honesty and mutual respect are both critical to a strong business relationship. Being flexible and forthcoming, even when things may not be working as well as anticipated, is a great way to build trust and mitigate any misaligned perspectives.

Look for an agency that won’t just tell you what you want to hear. A good partner does more than just take direction; your agency should support you in your successes, but also offer insight when they feel things are headed in the wrong direction. Transparency helps keep things from going sour, but also offers the opportunity to take things further…together. Overcoming obstacles brings teams closer and motivates them to work even harder for each other.

3. Offer Perspective and Collaborate

Clients turn to their agencies for thought leadership and creative direction. In fact, 57% of marketers today struggle to produce engaging content, making the agency role as important as ever. A great agency should be a catalyst for change and innovation, bringing new ideas to the table and going above and beyond baseline expectations. Their experience and expertise makes them an invaluable asset.

Let them be your sounding board when it comes to new ideas. Trust their insight and work together. This may mean helping your agency do great work by making them a key part of internal processes, ensuring that approvals go smooth, or encouraging projects to be presented in­person for even more opportunities and better collaboration.

4. Be Patient

Even if you execute the strongest possible campaign, chances are you will not be a viral or instant success. The results will speak for themselves when it comes to demonstrating your agency’s value and expertise as a partner, but certainly cannot be rushed. Take a step back and give your campaigns time to make an impression, but keep a keen eye on critical engagement and conversion metrics. A good campaign has vast potential to affect your bottom line – given the proper time to make an impact.

Making a Great Client­-Agency Relationship Last

Without open communication, transparency and creative collaboration, even the strongest client­-agency relationship may fade over time. The key to lasting success lies in working toward joint goals and mutual wins: teaming up to work through pitfalls and hurdles along the way to drive both businesses forward. From the get go, position the relationship to succeed, and the wins will come as a consequence.

--Lena Liller, COO and Director of Account Leadership

Lena Liller
COO and Director of Account Leadership