The relationship between an agency and their clients is fundamental to how successful the work is and, importantly, how much enjoyment and job satisfaction team members, on both sides, get from their role day-to-day.
Building, and maintaining, an outstanding agency-client relationship does not happen upon first meeting. Think of it like starting a new relationship in your personal life. The more time spent together, investing in each other, the stronger you – as a team – become.
Applying these same principles to your working relationships, building trust over time, working together, and learning as the relationship matures, will ensure the best possible chance of success in the work you do.
So, let’s look at three steps to a successful agency-client relationship.
1. Laying foundations and building trust
Forming an honest, collaborative and trustful partnership takes time, process and dedicated resources. It is important for the agency team to be seen as a trusted advisor, staying one step ahead and anticipating the clients’ needs. This can only be achieved when the agency is truly honest about their capability and are able to deliver on their commitments over time. From a client perspective, ensuring that the agency is kept up to date with business changes and challenges will enable the agency to maintain the front foot and anticipate any needs.
Regular check-ins, outside of BAU activity, will ensure that topics beyond agreed scope can be discussed and considered without distraction of the current ‘job in hand’. This is underpinned by trust between the two teams, in which openness and integrity defines both short-term updates and longer-term strategies.
2. Working together collaboratively
Continued collaboration between clients and agencies is paramount. Following a thorough onboarding process, focus must remain on continuous growth for the clients’ account, done most effectively through working as one team unit.
Clarity around goals and KPIs is vital, not only for key stakeholders but for the entire account delivery team. Working with the client and internal teams to identify the metrics that matter and agreeing upon clear, shared objectives ensures alignment in expectation. Using a measurement framework acts as an anchor for all activity to keep the relationship transparent.
Continually looking for ways to strengthen your partnership is also important, whether that be through workshop sessions, in-person visits, or regular presentations between businesses. Bonding and having fun is key to developing an environment in which honesty is priority.
3. Learning and evolving as the relationship matures
Businesses – both the agency and the clients’ – evolve over time, and so should the partnership.
Upon onboarding a new client and through every planning cycle following, it is imperative to understand the clients’ business, not only in terms of goals and KPIs, but also the brand, sector, audience and the cultural context in which it operates. This is gained by thorough research into products/services and by becoming proficient with the businesses‘ operating model, not only within marketing, but across sales, operations and wider business units.
Equally, as the partnership matures, it is important to regularly check in and review KPIs and objectives to ensure agency and client teams are aiming for the same business outcomes, and can continue to learn and develop strategies that make a long-lasting impact.
Driving real business value
The most successful relationships are those that remain fulfilling long after the honeymoon period.
When done right, aligning on longer-term values and ambition fuels innovation. Having transparency on what success looks like enables open communication, which in turn creates a relationship where new ideas can be shared to test and learn.
Synergistic partnerships help to lay strong foundations for agency and client relationships to grow and evolve, resulting in mature strategies across channels that drive real business value.
Hear what out clients have to say here.