Creative direction, calls-to-action, messaging, and brand positioning all have a profound affect on the success of a marketing campaign. In fact, a campaign cannot be successful without the confluence of these factors. But, perhaps the piece of the campaign pie that has the greatest impact on marketing efforts is the relationship between the client and the agency. The status of this relationship can mean the difference between good marketing campaigns and great ones. This relationship is complex and is held together by honesty, respect, trust and understanding.
Similar to a personal relationship, the client-agency relationship is a two-way street. Both sides give and take from one another, but it is through this exchange that their shared goal of executing successful campaigns can be achieved.
Below is an agency-perspective of the top five behaviors that foster a lasting relationship between the client and agency:
- Work in partnership. Agencies aren’t commodities, they’re strategic partners. Clients and agencies are experts in their respective fields, and they should treat each other as equals. The foundation of a healthy client-agency relationship is built on mutual respect, and trusting that the efforts put forth by both parties is in the best interest for all those involved. When clients and agencies feel secure in their partnership, communication, collaboration, and cooperation strengthen, leading to comprehensive marketing strategies.
- Set expectations early. Define goals and performance metrics early on in the relationship. Clearly communicating what is expected of the agency and how their performance will be measured will provide milestones and standards for the agency to work toward. The agency should set client expectations too. Effectively communicating workflow processes, timelines, and deliverables, as well as explaining SEO tactics and results,
- Establish open lines of communication. Both the client and the agency should make themselves available to each other, offering honest feedback and discussion throughout the strategy and creative development process. Doing so will further establish trust relations, which in turn, will lead to the exchange of creative ideas and business strategy.
- Respect one another. Compassion, empathy, and understanding go a long way in this seemingly volatile relationship. The agency should educate themselves about their client’s business, as well as familiarizing themselves with the client team members they will be working with most closely. Connecting with clients on a personal level will adds insight to communication preferences, and an understanding of how information is interpreted and situations are handled. Clients should respect the expertise offered by the agency, and trust that their marketing direction is in the best interest of their business.
- Compensate fairly. Campaign budgets do not have to exorbitant, but they should cover the costs of delivering all the features agreed upon during the discovery and messaging phase. Understand the itemized budget/proposal produced by the agency and adhere to their restrictions. Clients should have a budget reserve that will allow them to cover unexpected costs, and/or funding new features of a campaign.