Client/agency relationships…are getting shorter. Which begs the question, ‘Why? What are we all missing?’
Global best practice insight and technology company CEB recently asked agency leaders, including Quarry’s own Glen Drummond and Mandey Moote, to share their insights on “What key relationship-building steps do clients most often overlook?” The resulting article was published by CEB for their members only; however, they’ve generously allowed us to share their curated list of five top overlooked tips (and two key agency selection criteria) with you, as follows:
1. Make sure they “get it”
No matter how well the agency knows your industry, there needs to be discipline on both sides, ensuring the agency invests time getting to know your business, customers, brand, and the expectations of key stakeholders.
2. Keep the creative spark alive
Saying “no” too many times or being too directive can kill a client/agency relationship. You’re looking for a fresh perspective, not a passive, tactical partner. Challenge your agency to do at least one wildly strategic or creative thing for you each year, something that might even make you a bit nervous.
Challenge your agency to do at least one wildly strategic or creative thing for you each year, something that might even make you a bit nervous.
3. Be constructive
Creative teams invest time in understanding a clients’ issues/objective and then brainstorm on possible solutions. Keep in mind that it’s not what you say, because agencies need your input, it’s how you say it. First be complimentary, state what you like, and then give notes.
4. Don’t miss the magic
Too often RFPs are focused only on qualifications and price. The real magic in an agency relationship is how well you work together. Keep in mind, the way your teams will work together—and bring out the best in each other—will really make a difference.
5. Understand limitations
A good creative campaign can change perceptions about your brand, products, and even service capabilities. However, it is the burden of the organization to deliver on the “promise” being communicated. Be realistic of what your agency partners can and cannot solve.
Beyond these tips for building a great relationship, CEB also shared two key agency selection criteria based on recent research, as follows:
6. Agency’s ability to help you bust internal silos
Assess agency candidates for their understanding of key partner functions (like sales, service or operations) and their ability to help you bring those other partners into creating seamless customer experiences.
7. Agency’s ability to disrupt your customers
Winning marketing efforts disrupt what customers think, believe, and assume about themselves (not about you). Bottom line: pressure test your agency’s empathy—the ability to go deep into how customers think about themselves and their own world.
Pressure test your agency’s empathy—the ability to go deep into how customers think about themselves and their own world.