A client view: real agency partners make all the difference

As a young client graduate working for British Meat I was fortunate to be around the mercurial creative genius that was the late great John Webster. He was an integral part of what was the highly impressive BMP DDB offering of the 1990’s and I remember it being a fantastic opportunity to fast track my own learning in the presence of an agency that prided itself on strategic planning and delivering cut through and effective communications programmes. I share this because it made a really positive impression on me from the early days of my career and set me up to informally put in place a check and balance on all agency partners as I moved onwards and thankfully upwards!

Client/agency relationships are a curious beast and I’ve seen examples of great (and less great) relationships over the years. At the core of any relationship is the human interaction element and in the case of the communications business it boils down to making sure that the people around the table are aligned towards the same goal. Sounds simple, but I’m quickly turned off by agency people who are more distracted and focussed on external recognition than dealing with the very commercial challenge I am likely putting in front of them with my hopefully well crafted brief. My view is very simple, if it works for me and my brand and is effective than external recognition will come along naturally in due course. Against this backdrop, getting client/agency casting right is a critical aspect that agencies must deliver against.

Getting clients to follow a thorough process is also critical. I have been fortunate to be exposed to some really smart people through my career who have helped school me in good best practice. The benefits of working for a joint venture between Nestle and General Mills exposed me to some of the tools and best practices from two of the biggest and best marketing organisations in the world. Great marketing isn’t just the preserve of big companies however and a well followed process can be even more effective for smaller companies given their ability to be more nimble and fleet of foot.

Which brings me back to agencies. Some of the best ever client support I’ve ever experienced has been from agencies irrespective of discipline who genuinely cared about helping me deliver success and at times made me feel uncomfortable with brave and breakthrough work. Discussions might often be robust but if the overall end position was better quality work then it benefited all parties. True partnerships are born out of a shared commitment to deliver and it is not a surprise that long standing relationships and client retention has right at its core all the meaningful facets of an effective relationship and great chemistry.

True agency partners ‘get’ their clients and it struck me there are a few simple hints, tips and questions that agencies might want to consider;

-Client profiling; what matters to them, what are their interests, what makes them tick?

-Have you ever considered what the clients personal KPI’s are?

-What does a typical day look like for your client and what else is on their to do list?

-How high a priority is your project for your client?

-How emotionally engaged is your client in your project?

-What are the internal/external measurements of success and effectiveness?

-Who are the true internal stakeholders and how are they being engaged?

-How are you going to make your ideas stand out and get prioritised?

Which brings me back to my new world of helping out brands and agencies deliver great work and great commercial impact. Proper agency partners are worth their weight in gold to marketers with a long ‘to do’ list – it’s probably worth reflecting whether you are being the partner you want to be or your client needs you to be.

Want a client view on how to be a more effective agency partner?

47 Marketing are pleased to offer a new workshop designed to help get inside the mind of a senior FMCG client and help understand how you can work better together with clients and drive greater impact and nurture effective longer term relationships.

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