The Best Client-Agency Relationships Begin With These 4 Elements

Marketers sitting at a conference table

“If you don’t know why it’s working when it’s working, you won’t know how to fix it when it breaks.” – Andy Stanley

Recently I was able to hear best-selling author and speaker Andy Stanley talk about leader-employee relationships, and he said, “If you don’t know why it’s working when it’s working, you won’t know how to fix it when it breaks.”

Right away I thought about how that statement was so apt for the client-agency relationships we maintain as a marketing agency. His statement urges us to be intentional in analyzing what really works in our relationships – even if what’s working seems obvious or intuitive – so that we can quickly respond if something appears out of alignment.

When client-agency relationships are working well, they become a high-value partnership that benefits everyone. Clients can trust their agency is delivering on their promises, and the agency can be an effective extension of the client’s team. This benefits overall communication, meeting needs and goals, and often brings out opportunities for cost efficiencies.

We have found that our best client-agency relationships start with a couple of key elements. While each client is different, if these elements are present from the beginning, it will become very obvious if something falls out of alignment later.

1. Mutual Respect

While this element seems obvious, it is also critical. Mutual respect spans across respecting one another’s expertise, abilities, and personality.

For example, we respect that our clients know their business and their customers better than anyone. We come alongside your brand and team to advance your business goals, not rewrite them.

Case-in-point, our client Ephrata National Bank faces competition on both the large and small scale as they work to provide the best service and products to those living within their geographic area. When they partnered with Scheffey in 2013, they came armed with deep demographic and psychographic information about their target audiences. Scheffey became an extension of ENB’s marketing department to develop customer engagement strategies based on sophisticated audience profiles. The resulting campaigns achieved their goals of deepening their relationship with their customers and attracting new audiences to specific products.  (Read more about ENB’s client profile here.)

2. Expectation Alignment

When it comes to expectations, the most obvious examples of how this works actually occurs when things aren’t working. Misaligned expectations lead to confusion, disappointment, anger, and sometimes misspent budget dollars.

In contrast, by intentionally discussing and managing expectations, both agencies and their clients can feel confident in their partnership. Some of the top areas to watch for expectation alignment include the following:

    • Budget to Scope and Return
    • Goals to Directives and Priorities (and Budget)
    • Tactics to Client Involvement and Responsiveness

Maintaining a healthy client-agency relationship requires both sides to candidly discuss their expectations, as well as their ability to deliver on them. Mutual accountability and confirmed expectations lead to feeling in control of the process and provide a solid structure to measure success against.

3. Values Match

The best client-agency relationships are formed when each party has complementary values. For example, if you both value integrity, chances are you can trust both groups to act openly and not shy away from tough conversations. However, if you value collaboration, but your agency values coming to the table with fully-formed ideas, you might feel left out of the creative process.

Our values apply directly to how we interact with clients, how we approach projects, and how we work as a team. Our values are to:

    • Serve clients
    • Value results and relationships – equally
    • Cultivate creativity – in all aspects of what we do
    • Leverage strengths
4. Transparent Operations

Trust is integral to any relationship, but maintaining trust becomes much easier when you don’t have to guess what your agency is doing. This is why Scheffey provides in-depth marketing plans that detail our thinking, timelines, anticipated performance, and where every budget dollar is going. There’s accountability in transparency that makes clients feel secure in their agency choice.

If the above criteria are being met, then it all comes down to executing campaigns, meeting timelines, and delivering on promises. It takes some work at the start to make sure the relationship is going to have all the right elements, but it’s well worth the effort. That’s why when we first meet with prospective clients, we spend most of our time asking questions. We know we want our clients to be thrilled with their choice of Scheffey as their integrated marketing firm, and that only happens when there’s a good fit for both sides. If you’d like to see if Scheffey is the right firm for your business, give us a call at 717-569-8274 or complete our contact form. We’d love to talk with you.

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