3 Things Successful Client-Agency Relationships Have in Common


Building an effective agency relationship is a two-way street, and it takes a lot of work from both the client and the agency to develop and maintain a successful partnership. According to AdWeek, there are four types of agency relationships, but today we’ll focus on those between great companies and great agencies. We don’t know everything that enables companies like Apple, Coca Cola, Fedex and Adidas to maintain positive relationships with the same agencies for an average of 22 years. But, like our top clients, they all do these three things:

Set Clear Expectations

Right from the start, take the initiative to clearly articulate your goals – both for any specific project at hand and for your company in general. Whether you do this verbally or in a focused, written creative brief, you’ll want to provide easy-to-follow guidance, while also clarifying information about your target audience, key messages, timing, expectations, and the relationship of projects to each other and other initiatives. Either way, the goal is to make sure your agency clearly understands the specific reasons why any given project is important to the business, and what will determine its success.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

A successful client-agency relationship is like a happy marriage. You both need to feel like you are accessible and available to each other. And that means defining what, when and how much you will need to share with each other – and sticking to those parameters. Don’t expect each other to know what kinds of communication work best for you. Expect a learning curve as you each learn how the other operates. You’re trying to balance marketing initiatives with internal procedures and politics. Likewise, your agency is trying to filter your input and preferences through marketing best practices. When in doubt, ask questions and err on the side of courtesy and respect for each other’s time, opinions and areas of expertise. Treat standing meetings with the respect they deserve, respond promptly to questions, and provide feedback and approvals in a timely manner.

Evaluate and Adjust

As projects are completed, take the time to review what went well and where there are opportunities for both sides to improve the relationship. If certain goals weren’t achieved, work with your agency to explore why and decide how to avoid similar issues in the future. Take advantage of the opportunity to provide open, honest feedback – and to gain insights into your own ways of doing things, as well. Turn that feedback into specific, measurable action items that both sides can commit to, going forward. And above all, do this repeatedly. After all, as both companies evolve and grow, so should their relationship.

In short: Well-aligned expectations, strong communication and the ability to evaluate and adjust can go a long way toward success. Great client-agency relationships will yield brilliant results for both partners – as long as everyone is willing to work together toward excellence.

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