5 ways to improve your agency relationship

Written by Verne on July 2nd, 2007

5 ways to improve your agency relationship

As both a Managing Director and an Account Manager at my creative marketing agency, I understand the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship with your client. Likewise, having been on the client side myself, I know that keeping your agency happy often has a positive impact on the deliverables.

Being on the agency end now, I’ve observed, seen, and experienced the things that can make me and my team happy. So, for all those who deal with agencies (or are thinking of doing so), here are 5 simple ways that you can improve your agency relationship.

  1. Take the time to understand your project.
    You can’t ask somebody to help you do something if you don’t know what you’re trying to do in the first place. If you don’t understand what you are trying to accomplish, you can imagine the difficulty your agency is having in trying to guess it. You don’t have to know how to accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish (that’s the agency’s job), but at the least, get your head around what you envision the end-product to be.
  2. Make sure your team is on the same page as you are.
    Chances are, more than one individual from your company will interact with the agency throughout the length of the project. That’s fine, so long as everybody is on the same page of what’s being done. There’s nothing more frustrating for an agency than to have Person A request that X be done, and have Person B scrap X and request for Y, and then have Person A return and wonder what happened to X. Consistent messaging applies in more cases than with just your consumers.
  3. Appreciate the extra work they do for you.
    Often times, agencies will extend their necks out to ensure that their deliverables surpass the minimal requirements simply because they want to see their clients succeed. Take some time to acknowledge this extra work (i.e. offering to setup email addresses for the entire company’s staff) and accompany it with an appreciative pat on your agency’s back. Some things you’re paying for, some things you’re not, and it’s often those things you’re not paying that make the difference. So do yourself a favour and give your agency a reason to surpass the status quo for you.
  4. Deliver promises on time.
    Granted, agencies aren’t always known best for their perfect delivery times, but the old saying still holds that two wrongs don’t make a right. If you’ve promised to provide feedback by end of day, or to deliver content by end of week, make sure you provide feedback by end of day and deliver content by end of week. It’ll work out to your benefit anyway, as chances are, your agency isn’t sitting around with just your project on their plate. Push your timelines and you may find your project on hold behind another client who takes their project seriously enough to deliver their promises on time.
  5. Pay them on time.
    There’s nothing worse than showing up in your agency’s accounting system as a Delinquent Client. Your agency has worked hard to deliver your project on time, so you should return that respect by paying them on time. Consistently late payments can cause tension and stress on your agency, and we all know what stress does to happiness. Make life easy for everyone and just make sure to cut that cheque out within the specified payment period when that next invoice comes in.

Now it’s not to say that your disgruntled agency’s work will be below par upon delivery; some of us actually believe in doing great work for the intrinsic pleasures it brings (and because it has our name on it).

And it’s not that agencies are all made up of Will Smiths in pursuit of happiness either. We just love the work we do, and love to see others loving and appreciating the work we do.

So show your agency some love by following the 5 simple tips listed above. Client-agency high-fives is an optional 6th route to take as well (highly recommended).

7 Responses

  • Satish

    Great understanding here on the ins and outs of maximizing an agency relationship.

    I’ve got to agree with #3 especially. To be fair to clients, I can also say that sometimes it’s pretty tough to see just how far an agency’s reaching out to make sure everyone’s happy… they may simply just not know if it’s standard service or not. So maybe agency folk should find a genuine way of getting that message across, or just stick with the satisfaction of overdelivering?

    I would also add a #7 – Make the relationship a relationship. A key to working successfully with agencies is to work exclusively with a set couple (if not just one across the board). That way the agency can understand and contribute to your business growth, and likewise the client can understand how to work best and integrate the agency into processes.

  • Verne

    I’d have to agree with that 7th point too. The best relationships are those that aren’t strictly transactional.

    Thanks for the comments!

  • Chris

    Really interesting read!


  • opinionated stepsister

    Hey Satish – Where did number 6 go?

    Verne – Having had to deal with agencies, I quite agree with all of your points. No slanted opinions here! (Except I’m gonna send you on a goose hunt and find your spelling mistake – courtesy of the neighbourhood nitpick)


  • Verne

    If you’re the neighbourhood nitpick then just call me the… …!

    Nice find OS.. I think I need to spend more time “maitaining” the spelling!

    Oh and number 6 is naturally the client-agency high-five. You should try it out sometime, it goes well with feel good music. ;)

  • Téa B

    Hi Verne,

    Read your post after you commented on mine on Shane&Peter — looks like we’re on a similar page huh :)

    It is great that more people are writing about how to look after the relationships, as well as just “the work”. I know that if a client meets me halfway, I am a whole lot more willing to accommodate! :)

    Anyway, great work — I have subed to your RSS :)

  • Verne

    Healthy client relationships can be one of the most valuable assets for an agency, and I would hope that clients have that same appreciation towards their creative agencies. Given that, it only makes sense that both parties work together to form mutually beneficial relationships. I’d love to read a post on “how to improve your client relationship” from someone on the other end of deliverables.

    Thanks for your subscription! You already have mine!

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