15th December 2016

Create a winning partnership with your digital agency

Noah Baker
Digital Consultant

This month I’ll once again be putting client-agency relationships under the microscope, looking at how you can create the best possible partnership and what the benefits are of this united approach.

Many companies keep the agencies they work with at arm’s length. Instead of forging a strong partnership and getting the best out of each other, the relationship is nowhere near as close as it should be. This might be because:

  1. They’ve had a bad experience with a previous agency
  2. They haven’t got the capacity within the business to dedicate time to maintaining the agency relationship
  3. They’ve delegated the job of maintaining the agency relationship to a junior team member who doesn’t have the authority to make key decisions
  4. The constraints of procurement brings with it a layer of bureaucracy which slows down the sign-off process

Setting yourself up for an open, honest and collaborative relationship has to start from the beginning - the brief, discussing budgets, and the agreement to work with each other.

During the pitch, it’s about you getting to know the agency (and its people), assessing their potential and ultimately deciding whether you see yourself working with them. They will be aiming to come away from the experience with a better understanding of what makes you and the other stakeholders tick.

The agency should also want to know how easy it will be to get access to information that determines the direction of the project, and decide upon a working process that will suit both parties from the get-go.

Winning with long-term engagement

Once you’ve selected your agency it’s especially important to invest time with them up front, as this will help create a better understanding, focus on a common goal, build momentum and yield long-term engagement.

A client who shares a healthy relationship with their agency is more likely to benefit from a passionate and engaged partner who will continue to create high-quality, immersive experiences.

Agencies who feel secure are also more likely to provide you with ways to save money, going beyond the call of duty to deliver cost-effective solutions.

A recent study carried out by consultancy firm R3 titled “Global 40” looked at 40 of the world’s best relationships between marketers and their agencies - it drew the following conclusions:

  1. Look to new models
  2. Face time matters
  3. Focus on outcomes, not inputs
  4. Take digital seriously
  5. Immersion both ways
  6. Benchmark and evaluate

In other words, don’t be afraid to try out new ways of working. There’s no final approach, only an ever-evolving one, and there’s certainly no one-size fits all solution.

Get in front of your agency - at Deeson our clients know that they are welcome at our London or Canterbury offices, without invitation, and talk to anyone. We know that without this level of open conversation it can become more difficult to achieve great output, and so we foster an open and radically candid culture.

If you’ve signed a contract, the financial details are already settled. So it’s very much in the interest of a client to invest time in getting to know their agency. According to the “Global 40” study, Procter & Gamble invests as much time on training its own team on agency management as it does immersing the agencies.

Avoid the one-way relationship

Unsuccessful client/agency relationships can feel one-way. Without true collaboration, agencies can’t do great work, which can lead to disengagement. This means there’s little chance of a long-term relationship developing.

At Deeson we prefer to work with people who want to be involved, who are prepared to debate, have their thoughts challenged, and challenge ours. The best work we do is when the client and agency team work together with a laser focus on producing the best work. This never happens if barriers to communications and relationships are put in the way, so we aim to remove them all.

Try to embrace your agency, see them as an extension to your team, let them help manage your problems and certainly celebrate their achievements as well as your own!

As with any good relationship you get out what you put in, and more! Find out more about the way we work.