The dance between agencies and clients is often a tricky, wavering spectacle - a mutual walk on a virtual tightrope, where two parties play give and take in order to achieve their goals. But how do they actually get to that point?
Making the right connection in today’s professional world is quite different from how it was a decade ago. Here are four rules to follow that will help streamline the process.
1. Be transparent.
The first key to a mutually beneficial agency-client relationship is transparency.
Trust and strong communication are the building blocks to any good relationship. Clearly define your goals, strengths and concerns to your potential partner. This will allow for an open discussion that weighs the opportunities and challenges ahead.
Don’t be shy. If you spot weaknesses - internally or externally -- that could buoy your competitive advantages, address them. The discomfort of an awkward conversation should be an easy pill to swallow if it leads to inking a valuable deal and not having to regret it down the road.
2. Be honest.
While the adage is a bit cliche, honesty truly is the best policy.
Prioritizing honesty saves all invovled parties' time and money.
Prospects will also respect agencies that altruistically court them by admitting when they might be in over their head or if there’s a conflict of values.
Even if the deal doesn’t work out, an honest dialogue will earn you an industry ally.
3. Be accessible.
If you’re noticing a potential partner hiding behind their support staff and not putting in the effort to chime in on emails and conference calls, look closely to see if their level of involvement will become an issue.
While C-Suite executives have busy schedules, they need to make time to address things that will move the needle forward. A brand leader, who's available but not overbearing, will lead to better bonds and clearer lines of communication.
4. Don’t settle for a by-the-numbers partner.
The key takeaway here is that a budding partnership should develop out of a shared passion, mutual admiration and an eye for profitability.
I'll use the example of Alex Bogusky, co-founder of Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Bogusky was fired from his agency after going on a diatribe about the dangers of fast food while Burger King was one of his agency's largest accounts.
While the situation could have been damaging for all parties involved, Bogusky’s departure and ethos may have inspired his former agency to reinvent Domino’s with “Pizza Turnaround.”
The campaign helped relaunch a brand that had been hit with a disastrous PR windfall at the (literally) dirty hands of its own employees.
Today, Domino’s is a rebooted success, as is Bogusky, who has transformed into a successful entrepreneur, with his name still hanging on the CP+B shingle as he’s evolved into a staunch advocate for health and environmental issues.
This example proves that even if a relationship does not work out, being passionate and forthright, while maintaining a level of respect, can steer partners in a positive direction, regardless.
With the departure from lunch meetings and handshakes to the arrival of rapid-fire emailing, texting, social networking and proposal trading, it’s more important than ever to properly court potential clients and partners to ensure everyone is entering into a prosperous and harmonious relationship.