The client/agency love and hate relationship

client-agencyOkay, my dearest agency friends and my dearest internal marketing friends, listen up. This post is for everyone in the industry. The client/agency relationship is often a love/hate one. As someone who has been on both ends of the bottle neck, I sympathize with all parties involved. Really, I do. Its no secret agencies have what we call “difficult clients.” And its no secret, clients have their own pet peeves about their agency. However, both parties need to realize a few things and go into the relationship with these items in mind to avoid frustrations and to get the most out of the relationship. The client/agency relationship is just like a romantic one. To be a good one, it requires giving and taking, solid communication and trust.

With that said…

5 things agencies need to remember

  • Your client contact is busy. I know hard to believe, right? Sometimes your email slips through the crack. It isn’t personal. But, please don’t nag. If we haven’t responded in two or three days, give us a call. If it’s urgent, always call and don’t rely on email.
  • Your expertise and opinion matters. Speak up and let us know if you think a certain idea, tactic or strategy will or will not work and why. As the client, we are paying you for your opinion, so please tell us and don’t hold back at the fear of getting fired. Even if we don’t take your advice, we appreciate your input and it shows initiative.
  •  Your client needs many approvals. In most cases, clients have many approvals they need to receive before rolling out any sort of marketing, PR or branding initiative. So, please be patient with us. This relationship is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Do your homework. Learn as much as you can about our company. We like agencies that aren’t constantly asking us questions that the answers can be found online.
  • Break it down. Again, as the client, we come to you for expertise. This means we don’t have the amount of knowledge you do about a certain topic. When explaining to us a strategy, use clear language and be sure to explain it in terms we can understand.

5 things clients need to remember

  • Your agency can’t read your mind. If you have a specific vision, share it with us. We are here to help. But, we can’t read your mind, and we will only give to you what you clearly communicate to us.
  • Your agency is also busy. Shocking. But, unfortunately, we can’t sit by the phone and wait for you to call. You and the relationship are VERY important to us; but, sometimes we need a little extra time to get to everything on your list.
  • Respond if you want something done. We know you’re busy (see above), but just like you need approvals, we need yours, in most cases. Therefore, it’s unrealistic to expect us to have completed a job if you haven’t responded on action items that will keep the project moving forward.
  • There is only so much information on the Internet. This means that even if we do the best research about your company, we are still going to have ongoing questions as the relationship continues. Please don’t get annoyed and realize we want to keep learning to keep producing great results for you.
  • Just like you, we’re human and we make mistakes. Clients often expect their agency to produce perfect work, always. But, that is unrealistic. Remember, everyone makes mistakes. But, rest assure as soon as we realize the mistake, we will do everything we can to fix it.
  • Bonus 6th one. Trust us. We have your best interest in mind.

Whether you’re on the client or agency side, try to remember these items; and before you trash talk that difficult client or black list your agency on file, always ask yourself “what can I do differently to produce a different outcome?” Both parties want the other to be successful, so let’s help each other out.


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