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Ways to maximise your client-agency relationship

Like any relationship, the one between a client and its agency is most successful when both parties understand each other’s needs and work collaboratively.

The four observations below are for anyone taking their first steps into this kind of partnership to help the relationship flourish.

Maintain regular communication

The fast pace of modern life can make it a challenge to maintain regular communication. We assume the other party knows what we are thinking or doing – but this is not always the case. Maintaining and developing a deep understanding on both sides requires a conscious effort to build in time for update calls, not just emails, for better dialogue and context.

In our experience, the more we know about our client – and the more our client knows us – the greater the success we achieve together.

Emma Padwick-Graham, Marketing Director at Oodle, values the time we spend talking. She said: “For me, one of the most invaluable things about working with an agency is getting proactive ideas and strategic thinking – and I would never expect an agency to be able to do that without properly knowing our business. We talk to the Clear team regularly, about work in progress and our wider business, and are open and honest about what’s working well, and what is challenging. Regular contact means we are one team.”

Maintain momentum

Cost efficiency, when working with an agency, can be best achieved by both parties by keeping up the momentum on a project to stay within time estimates and ensure team continuity, but this is also a major factor in achieving the best results and outcomes. Timely feedback and collaboration while it’s all fresh and top of mind is when the magic happens. Creativity soars, solutions present themselves and the whole process flows.

Clients and their agency are in the same boat. Both parties want timely delivery on budget and the best possible outcomes - so work together to keep wind in the sails!  

Work to each other’s strengths

Clients usually take on an agency to provide specific expertise, creative innovation or to simply accelerate delivery. All or some of these aspects are to supplement the work of the internal client team.

Clarity on what is most valuable to the client is important for an agency to understand at the outset.

For example, the PR professionals in an agency may bring experience at selling-in stories to the media or handling journalists. Their contribution can also add value into how the content creation is approached from the start. Also, agency experience across a range of clients/sectors can be drawn on to encourage wider debate or support the analysis of competitors. Agency third party status can be used to facilitate unbiased workshops and stakeholder interviews, to present alternative strategies and advise on creative directions.  

It's a challenge for clients to recruit an individual with the multi-skills to work across all of this. Agencies can bridge the gaps, giving access to many different skills/people at both strategic and tactical levels across the agency team. Working together at the start of each project to decide what can be achieved inhouse and what is most needed from the agency helps to manage expectations for both parties.

As Jon Lunn, Head of Comms at Thales says: “We can’t possibly cover everything in-house. Using an agency allows us to tap into broader comms capabilities, and also means our agency can bring learnings from other sectors. It helps add that little bit extra, that little bit of magic to our own teams.”

Celebrate your successes together

We all need our souls nourished with morale-boosting affirmation that the work in progress, or completed, is delivering.  For this reason, it’s important that every positive success is celebrated together. This helps to bolster team spirit and turbo-charges motivation on this project as well as for the next.

Don’t wait for official review meetings. Share anecdotal comments, signs of engagement from sales, or evidence of communication breakthroughs arising from the work, so all can enjoy these moments together.

The agency-client partnership is an organic relationship which can unleash a power that makes ambitious objectives achievable.

As with any well-oiled system, strengthening familiarity and understanding in what each other brings to the partnership, achieves great efficiencies over time and the most outstanding results.

So, whether you are client or agency, your communication and relationship-building is what will bring the most successful and rewarding partnership – with frequently amazing outcomes!   

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