Blame it on advertising. If there’s any kind of divide between clients and agencies, it can probably be traced back to the era of Mad Men. As the nascent agency world built a fearsome reputation for innovation, creativity, and idiosyncrasy; the client teams were sidelined as the bean counters and joy killers.
Of course, we all know that nothing could be further from the truth. Nonetheless, there’s still plenty of work to be done in order to help client teams and their agencies feel more aligned. After all, the more we understand each other’s worlds, the better the work will be. That way, everybody wins.
So, here’s our perspective on how clients can get the most out of their agency partnerships. And if you’ve got a point of view on how agencies can better service their clients, please get in touch. We’d love to host a guest voice on the matter!
Clients often stipulate that they’d like an agency partner, rather than just a service provider. And we’ll be honest – that’s music to our ears. We believe in collaboration, mutual respect and, above all, trust. These things are key to any lasting relationship, and enable everyone to bring their A game. Every time.
This isn’t about blindly accepting everything your agency tells you. We’re more than happy to be challenged. Instead, we simply encourage everyone involved to remember that everybody has the project’s best interests at heart. One of the most valuable things your agency can offer you, is the breadth of their experience working with other clients. You get the benefit of all that knowledge without any of the pain that comes from acquiring it in the first place.
Easy to talk about; harder to achieve. It’s easy to mistake openness for an unfiltered stream of information, where everything is accessible, and almost impossible to pin down. In fact, when we talk about openness, it’s about freedom. The ability to speak up, knowing that others are willing to listen. It’s about always being available, to help your team ensure that they’re right on track. And it’s about the opportunity to challenge conventional wisdom, safe in the knowledge that everyone wants what’s best for your brand.
Not every organisation is set up for a culture of openness. There are hierarchies and reporting lines to consider. But when it comes to working with your agency, you get to define how open you want the relationship to be. Just remember that, the clearer your communication, the better the end result.
We all lead complicated, multi-layered lives. We’re used to working in environments with countless teams, and just as many stakeholders. Although this organizational complexity is nothing new for your agency, and probably isn’t too far from their own reality, it can make project management a tricky process. It’s not too hard to see that, the more stakeholders involved in a project, the greater the possibility of conflicting agendas. And a conflicted agenda can lead to a confused experience for your audience.
So what’s the solution? The sooner you can get all your stakeholders together in one place, the sooner you can arrive at some kind of consensus. Of course, opinions will always differ, and every project is likely to evolve en route to delivery, but if you can involve your stakeholders at the beginning of the process, you’ll be more likely to get everyone on board. Fewer last minute changes also means fewer costly budget amendments.
We’ve all had to work with last minute demands. Those opportunities that come out of nowhere and need an instant solution. Your agency is here to make those projects possible, and they’ll pull out all the stops to make every element a roaring success. However, their calm can-do attitude is designed to absorb the pressures you’re under. In all likelihood, they’re working round the clock behind the scenes to meet your deadline, but don’t assume that because they’re not panicking, that they have extra bandwidth to handle additional requests.
In the same way that your agency will always manage your expectations, in terms of what’s achievable within the timeframe, try to be realistic when scoping out your brief. By the time your agency has to say “no,” they’re probably already struggling to deliver.
There’ll be times where you’ll be looking to find a new service partner or agency. Pitching for business is an everyday reality for agencies, and most great agencies actually enjoy the process. For them, it’s a chance to show off a little, build some new relationships, and embrace an all-new brief.
But even the best agencies know that the ideas they deliver in the pitch don’t show the full breadth of their capabilities. If you want to get the best out of your agency, try not to evaluate them solely on the work they present. Those ideas they’re sharing are just a taster of what’s possible. Instead, you should be buying the team, rather than the ideas. Pick the team you’re going to enjoy working alongside. Delivering events is a high pressure business, and can involve some pretty long lead-times. So you need to make sure that the partners you pick, are the ones you’re happy to spend the next few months with.