Leading agency relationships is not an easy task and something we continually work to make better. The biggest advice I give when asked about it is don’t be an asshole client. It’s pretty straight forward when you think about the concept of treating an agency partner how you’d want to be treated. True, you are paying for their services and expectations are high, however there are plenty of inputs and outputs to manage to get the most out of the investment. A couple of suggestions:
1. Look in the mirror. As easy as it is to call out an agency partner and make them the target for attacks, don’t forget to look in the mirror. There is something to be said for garbage in, garbage out. Make sure you’re process, briefs, research practices, etc. are in order as a complement to what the agency is bringing to the mix.
2. Write it out. Literally. Put on paper the expectations you have when looking to the agency partnership, especially after leading a review. It may not be a formal part of the contract but it should be formally known. This should also be supported by and drive how evaluations of the partnership go. Call out your working style around things like process, documentation, risk, comm’s, etc.
3. Candor. Candor is defined as “the quality of being open and honest in expression”. It’s so basic but so incredibly important. Creatives can be challenging, however in most cases the issues are with a lack of communication and more importantly a lack of dialogue. Dialogue is so important to get issues out, address them and not hold grudges as decisions are made.
Ultimately, by being a good client it helps when things don’t go well and stressful situations like tight deadlines or pivots in strategy come into play. If the relationship is built on trust and transparency from jumpstreet, that’s fantastic. However, its not just limited to the start of a partnership. If things get rocky, those are times where the three points above can be even more impactful. Suck it up, be a leader and head first into the hard spots of the relationship and commit to making it right. When it works, those times can be even more impactful.