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Agencies and clients: Making your match

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It’s a shared understanding across both agency and client worlds, that the key to successful partnerships is based on strong relationships. In work, as in love, people invest a huge amount of energy and passion in creating and nurturing these bonds. It’s all about collaborating towards a common goal of improving a brand, business, or benefit for consumers.

As agencies and clients enter the dating field, are there a set of rules that will help win over hearts, as well as minds? In the spirit of relationships and investigating what could make them even stronger, we asked some of our clients at Tesco, Nestle and Geary’s Independent Bakery, how they felt about these partnerships. We asked them to be honest and draw on their experience with multiple agencies, to really understand what makes a perfect match.

Did my heart love ‘till now? How agencies add value

Agencies often start out with the best intentions of running a project like clockwork, ensuring that timing plans, critical paths, studio resources and schedules perfectly sync up. But life rarely works out like that. Agencies need to truly live and breathe flexibility and this means more than just being responsive. It’s about having a deeper understanding of the client’s process and environment to better understand and accommodate the unplanned and offer a true level of agility in their partnerships. Clients see this as a huge way to add value (and be on the fast track to love!).

How to manage an agency relationship

In an effort to keep the peace, agencies can fall into the trap of simply nodding their heads. However, client and agency partnerships need to be based on mutual trust and respect that allows for healthy debate. Teams shouldn’t be afraid to speak up, challenge a brief and moderate a discussion that ultimately leads to better outcomes. Agencies and clients should continually challenge each other to push the boundaries and find new ways to innovate and inspire. After all, it’s when sparks fly that magic starts to happen.

The path to true love never runs straight: What can agencies forget?

Design, strategy and insight need to be grounded in a solid understanding of the brand’s target and, at every point along the journey, consumers should be top-of-mind. Agencies need to remember when presenting work, that while their expertise is valued their own preferences may need to be parked at the door. While beautiful graphic design is important, the focus should be providing a strong rationale as to why the work is going to connect with consumers to deliver incredible market results.

What to expect from a digital marketing agency

Clients expect their agency partners to be top of their game, and consistently deliver first class creativity and strategic thinking. However, an amazing presentation is far from “you had me at hello”. Marketers have hugely varied roles, and need to champion creative work across many different internal departments. Agencies need to ensure they understand the stakeholders involved and their business objectives, to enable them to sell their thinking with a commercial and consumer focus.

Together forever: Building a future

It can take years (or a lifetime) to find a relationship that is perfect for you. But in the client/agency world, teams often need to leap from first date to marriage vows when they commit to a brand partnership together. So, how do you build that rapport and keep the fire alive? Fundamentally, agencies and clients need to seamlessly feel like part of the same team – not a supplier relationship who waits to be managed. Collaboration needs to be free-flowing and inspiring to really add value above and beyond a brief.

How to work with agencies

It seems like there are rules to play by, but maybe these are also made to be broken. After all, all is fair in love and war! How can agencies reinvent the rules of engagement and set the standards even higher for their clients and themselves? Regardless of role or position, if we collaborate to explore different perspectives and challenge each other to drive deeper thinking, we can grow as people. Then we can not only fall in love, but enjoy truly rewarding relationships.

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ISSUE 11

Just Did It