jobs vs. careers, Employer Value Proposition

Building Careers or Filling Jobs?

New Research Says the Answer Matters

Here at Relish Marketing, we’re always watching the latest research and trends having to do with how successful organizations present their employer value propositions (EVPs) to candidates and employees. And the latest research from multiple sources indicates highly compelling direction for employers seeking to attract and retain talent in today’s turbulent times. It all centers around the difference between just having a job and pursuing a career.

Jobs vs. Careers: What’s the difference?

Functionally, the difference between a job and a career is huge – for your employees and your business. Jobs are short-term, whereas careers are built over time. A job is a means to an end – something people do to earn money. A career is an end in and of itself. A job offers a checklist of to-dos. A career provides a sense of purpose.

Statistically, the difference is striking. According to a recent survey by The Harris Poll for CareerBuilder, 50 percent of all employees feel like they have careers, while 50 percent feel like they only have jobs. Likewise, approximately one-third of those surveyed expressed satisfaction with opportunities for career advancement at their companies, while about one third indicated a plan to change jobs within a year.

It’s an even balance – but according to the latest Manpower survey of 40,000 employers, these numbers should worry employers, 45 percent of whom are struggling to fill roles. They should look even more disturbing to large employers, 67 percent of whom have this problem.

Think of it this way: If you’re like most large employers (or nearly half of all businesses) you’re working hard to fill open positions at your company – but the results aren’t happening the way they should. Meanwhile, about a third of your employees are thinking of leaving within the year. And fully half of your employees do not come to work the sense of commitment, purpose and drive that your other half do.

Learn from successful companies – and the talent they attract  

A survey of the World’s Most Attractive Employers - companies where job candidates are flocking - highlights a critical differentiator. More than half of these star companies (54%) emphasize an "inspiring purpose" in their Employer Value Propositions. This distinctive characteristic shouldn't come as a surprise, given a Universum survey of young professionals, in which Millennial and GenZ candidates rank "being dedicated to a cause" or "serving a greater good" as top career goals.

The Universum study also highlights a trend away from EVPs focused on formal professional development programs and following established career paths within a company. That's because younger talent is shunning defined career ladders and formal training in favor of more fluid career journeys and on-the-job learning.

Take a Fresh Look at Your EVP

Your EVP matters more than ever before – especially to highly desirable young talent. It must authentically represent the experience of working at your company. And that experience should offer ways in which you help team members build their careers through intrinsic growth experiences and the ability to contribute to an inspiring purpose.

Celebrating 10 years of Relish Marketing, founder Pam Willoughby and some of her team members talk about their marketing philosophy and how it all began.

Ten Years of Relish

A Conversation About How it All Began

As we celebrate our clients, our staff and the work we’ve created over the last ten years, it seemed appropriate to give Relish Marketing president and founder Pam Willoughby, along with original team members, Corey-Jan Albert and Paul Marquardt, the opportunity to reflect on our beginnings, our marketing philosophy and agency values.

Q:Pam, when you founded Relish, you said that you wanted the opportunity to start an agency that did it “right.” What problems were you looking to solve?

Pam: Coming off of experiences working with and for agencies I felt there was a better way to structure a client-agency relationship that could be more beneficial and productive as well as more enjoyable.

The traditional client-agency relationship was often centered on a discrete project or specific opportunity. I believed that if we approached it from the standpoint of a strategic, long-term relationship, we would provide more value and be better stewards of our clients’ budgets.

There was also the matter of what kind of team we wanted to create. It had to be relationship focused and based on the understanding that every team member has a unique set of qualities, experiences and expertise to offer. That collegial, collaborative relationship was essential in the beginning and remains essential to this day.

Q: CJ and Paul – what thoughts went through your minds when Pam said, “I want to start an agency, will you join me?”

CJ: I’m sure my first thought was probably, “OMG, yes.” I had known both Pam and Paul for years, and we all knew that we had complimentary skill sets, even though we were all doing different kinds of marketing work. We had suspected it would be great fun to work together, and it has been the most exciting thing in the world to discover we were right.

Paul: I have always had tremendous respect for Pam’s work ethic and intelligence, but I don’t think I knew how good she was at strategy and attracting great clients until we started working together. That has helped me turn my focus to developing strong designs to compliment the strategy.

Q: Pam, at what point did you realize that the agency was outgrowing your basement office?

Pam: When I started Relish, I really thought it was just going to be me working as a solo practitioner providing marketing strategy consulting to a small number of clients working out of my basement, tripping over the laundry baskets and the cats. But it quickly became clear that I could not do this on my own.

Yes, I could provide the strategy piece, but I couldn’t do what Corey-Jan and Paul do. Then, as we gained more and bigger clients, I realized that it couldn’t be just the Pam, Paul and Corey-Jan show anymore.

That’s where Ryan Fitzpatrick came in as our production manager, and he turned out to be so much more. He has since taken steps to grow his own career, but he was integral to growing Relish and turning this collection of individuals into a true team and company.

Paul: And don't forget the time when you met with a big new client at their office and they said, “Next time we should meet at your office.” You had been looking at the space we have now but hadn’t signed the lease. Then, practically overnight we made it look like we had been here for weeks.

CJ: It was like the movie, “The Sting.”

Pam: That really was a team effort. The client knew I was on the cusp of making a commitment to growth, and I think he saw himself as giving us a motivating push in that direction. Even so, they were expecting boxes and disarray – but instead, we were ready to get to work. We solidified that business relationship – and many more since.

Q: What has surprised you the most about the last 10 years?

Pam: I think it’s the longevity and the reception that we have gotten in the marketplace. In the beginning, I felt like this was something that we could do for seven or eight years and then we’d all move on to whatever is next. Then seven, eight, nine and now 10 years went by, and it still feels like this is where I want to be and what I want to be doing.

Paul: For me, the surprise is just how quickly it has gone. I’ve been fortunate to work in some really great places, and Relish has definitely been the best, because of the team mentality and working with some great designers. When Michael came on board as Creative Director, he reminded me of what it was like to really look at a design from a critical standpoint – to always look for ways to make it better. And then, Katerina with her eye for color and vibrancy. Everyone pushes me to be a little better and that helps all of us.

CJ:  If anything has surprised me, it’s how organically we have created this super healthy culture. I mean think about it: we have Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials – even a GenZ intern. We have diversity in terms of background, where we come from, how we live and what stage of life we are in. That adds a lot of strength. And no matter how we’ve grown, changed, pulled back, expanded, we’ve remained true to the core mission and values we’ve had from the start. I don’t know that I have ever worked anywhere that has been able to stay that healthy as its grown. It’s delightful.

Who Do Your Job Posts Attract?

The answer:  Maybe not who you think! If your job descriptions are like most, they probably explain how senior management perceives the job, not what a candidate wants to know. For instance, a recent glance at LinkedIn and yielded these gems:

The main responsibility of the role is to understand, identify, drive, and manage efficiencies and cost improvement opportunities.

This employee will ensure all financial information issued to wider business is correct and validated by all stakeholders.

Job responsibilities include overseeing a talented team working on high visibility projects while cultivating an environment of sustained creativity and professional growth.

Not exactly inspiring, are they? That’s because they’re written for HR leaders, not your ideal candidates. More importantly, they lack the messaging, authenticity and cultural voice that communicate what it’s like to work at the company and why people enjoy it – In other words, your employer brand. And, if your job descriptions are technically accurate but motivationally empty, you’re likely to attract people with the right skills, but not the right fit.

Fortunately, here are four steps you can take to ensure your job posts reinforce your employer brand and attract people who have the capabilities you need and who also belong at your company:

  1. Remember your audience. Most job posts read as if they were written to fulfill specific job parameters. Instead, write your descriptions for your ideal candidate. If you're looking for a creative marketing writer, don't be afraid to express your needs in a creative, clever, or even slightly poetic way. If you're looking for an engineer, write precisely and concisely about how they will be able to innovate and solve problems.


  1. Remember your identity. Be clear not only about what you do but also who you are as an organization – what it feels like to work there and the kind of people who should find it engaging. If the personality of your company is energetic and fun, your descriptions should feel that way, too.


  1. Empathize. Show that you understand the challenges that people in this type of position often face – and what your company does to reduce the impact of those challenges – or make them easier to overcome.


  1. Be clear. Tell your prospective candidates what they can expect to do in this position – in language that makes sense to them. Instead of saying that they’ll be managing efficiencies and cost improvement opportunities, say (for instance) that they’ll be responsible for tracking costs, managing specific budgets and developing supply chain procedures for vendors.


If you’re still struggling with how to pull away from the usual way of writing job descriptions, take a look at how these companies are doing it:

Who’s right for this job? A negotiator. An ambitious lead generator. Someone who is driven to go above and beyond for customers. (ADT)

Under Armour is all about performance. Because. What we make empowers athletes in every form to push themselves to turn good into great, and to stay hungry for whatever comes next. And this is exactly what we expect from each other. (Under Armour)

 We’re looking for someone who has experience working across many technologies/projects and wants the chance to lead a growing team of hungry, hard-working, local developers… if you’re tired of the mundane cubicle jobs and want to join a friendly, passionate team with limitless potential, we’d love to meet you. (Wildebeest)

And, if you really want to go all-out, you could try something like this.

However you do it, allow your employer brand to shine through in your job postings, and you’ll be more likely to attract the people you truly want for those positions.


Is your Recruitment Marketing leading the pack or trailing behind?

In the hyper-competitive talent marketplace, your recruitment marketing has to do more than get candidates to your job listings. As employers, we must engage with job seekers and employees throughout the candidate journey to build awareness for our employer brand, persuade the right talent to apply, create a frictionless candidate experience, and build a culture that values and supports our people, customers and communities. With so many priorities, where should you focus your recruitment marketing efforts for maximum impact?

We culled the most recent employer branding and recruitment marketing research to bring you the latest intel on the most relevant areas on which to focus. Dialing up your efforts in these high-impact zones will help elevate your employer brand, set your organization apart and activate interest among candidates.

According to The 2019 Recruitment Marketing Benchmark Report, recruitment marketing leaders differentiate their practices across six core categories:

Employer Branding: Leading organizations are much more likely to share employee stories (both video and narrative) and to invest in separate career profile or hashtag on social media platforms.

Initiative Hiring: Top employers offer content on opportunities for diverse candidates, veterans and students as well as conduct recruitment events.

Content:  As opposed to their peers, recruitment marketing leaders are more likely to post content beyond job openings on social, provide details on their application and hiring process and publish a blog.

Nurture: Leading employers are nearly eight times more likely to host a talent network for interested candidates with job alerts and monthly communications.

SEO: Top employers are more likely to optimize their career site for Google Jobs and to SEO-optimize their job landing pages.

Personalization: While adoption is building in this category, leading employers are more likely to incorporate a chatbot into their career site, send personalized job opportunities to candidates, distribute content based on the candidate’s job family and skills, and enable candidates to customize their talent network communication preferences.

The 2019 Fortune 500 Employer Brand Report assesses Fortune 500 employers across four categories:

Awareness and Attraction: Interestingly, recruitment marketing is the most overlooked element among those studied in this report. 73% of the Fortune 500 scored 10 or fewer points (out of 20) for this category, which includes talent community, blog, career-specific social media pages, employee testimonials and recruitment programs for veterans, university and diversity and inclusion.

Recruitment: Top employers advertise on designated job boards as well as on key social media sites. In addition, top-scoring employers have robust career websites that provide insight into the company’s culture and values alongside info on career paths, benefits and learning and development opportunities. And, leading employers incorporate AI chatbots and virtual reality games into their career site experiences.

Candidate Experience: More than ever, employers are treating candidates like customers, seeking to enhance their experience across all stages of the application, interviewing and hiring process. Key to this experience is transparency, and top employers embrace this with live Glassdoor integrations on their career sites, candidate feedback surveys and active employee referral programs.

Employee Experience: Leading employers recognize the power of external accolades to sway candidates – especially awards that are based on employee surveys, such as “Great Places to Work.” In addition, employers know that candidates seek out companies that have strong corporate social responsibility programs, and many candidates will pass on a company whose corporate values do not align with theirs. Top companies showcase their corporate values, community outreach, environmental stewardship and sustainable practices on their career sites and via social media.

How to differentiate your employer brand

  1. Enable tech work to for you – Incorporate technology that will add significantly to candidates’ and recruiters’ experience including optimizing job pages for Google Jobs and incorporating a live Glass door integration to your career site.
  2. Share the culture through storytelling – Employee testimonials, ‘day in the life’ type videos and career paths shared across your career site and social media platforms will help candidates determine if your culture is the right place for them.
  3. Maintain the conversation – While a candidate may not be ready today for your job opportunity, they may be perfect for another opening in six months. Keep them engaged with relevant and personalized content delivered when and how they like.

employer brand activation

How to Keep Your Employer Brand from Becoming Shelfware

Congratulations on your new employer brand! To keep it from becoming "shelfware," you need an employer brand activation plan!

You’ve invested in taking a clear look at what it’s like – and what it should be like – to work at your company. You’ve gone through exercises and interviews with executives, employees, partners and customers. And now, you have a logo, look, feel and message platform about who should be attracted to your business, why they should love working there, and even why they should still feel the love if they retire or move on. You have an employer brand.

Unfortunately, that’s where the effort stops in many organizations. The process of developing that employer brand feels like a complete effort, in and of itself. So, after reveling in the accomplishment, the employer brand is slid behind more pressing work, sometimes relegated to “shelfware.”

Development of your employer brand should be the start of the process, not the finish line. The next steps should infuse your brand through every point of contact where current, future and even former employees interact with your organization. Which means you need a brand activation plan.

Components of Your Activation Plan

Activating your brand will require launching it to both internal and external audiences and reinforcing it as part of your corporate culture. Internally, that means you’ll need to engage your leadership and Human Resources/Talent team. Identify and work with ambassadors – core people at multiple levels of the company who both personify the brand and will be committed to supporting it. Introduce the program to employees in a way that involves them and helps them to feel part of its success. Keep the momentum going throughout the year with opportunities that reinforce connection, encourage sharing through referral programs, and communications that showcase employees. Incorporate your new brand into onboarding materials as well, so that new employees feel connected to your culture right away. And, don’t forget about opportunities to engage “alumni,” reminding them that even as they move onto other opportunities, they’re still part of your company story.

Externally, seek ways to weave your employer brand through all the points of contact that touch potential employment candidates and applicants – including the careers area of your website (or even a separate site entirely) and social media. Make sure to write job descriptions in ways that reflect your employer brand’s tone and messages. Make sure your presence at recruitment events does the same. You’ll want to make sure that key external recruiters are up to date on the employer brand, too.

Set Yourself Up to Succeed

Building awareness of the qualities that make your organization a uniquely desirable workplace is a huge but important undertaking! Fortunately, we have some essential advice to keep in mind to help you successfully implement your employer brand.

  1. Your employees are critical partners in this effort. Keep the tone positive and inclusive. Involve them as much as possible – from requesting feedback while the brand is in development to listening to continued feedback as you launch. Keep in mind that your employer brand is being launched for and with them, not to them or at them.
  2. Your employer brand should reflect the presence of your employees. Consider showcasing people who personify your brand attributes – both through internal communications and on candidate-facing materials. It’s easier for employees to embrace your employer brand when they can recognize themselves as part of it.
  3. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Resist the temptation to do everything at once – or to change your employer brand after a few months of living and breathing it every day. It will take time to become a natural part of your culture and communications. Create achievable milestones with metrics within your long-term schedule for involving team members and reinforcing the brand.

Bonus tip: Building awareness of what makes your organization uniquely desirable – both internally and externally – will require both great effort and attention to detail across multiple training and communications axes. So, look to a partner who can help you activate your employer brand and measure your progress. (Full disclosure: We offer this kind of support, as well as employer brand development, here at Relish.)

In short: Don’t stop with the development of your program concept, name and messages. Infuse it through your corporate culture and out in the world. That’s when you’ll see results come to life, delivering the best possible return on your employer branding investment.

At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward.
Savor your brand. View our brand development client work. Work with us! Contact here.

Why You Should Never “Incentivize” Employees to Boost Glassdoor Ratings

When we saw last week’s article in the Wall Street Journal exposing how some businesses have driven spikes in 5-star Glassdoor ratings, it hit us right in our employer brand-loving hearts. The article revealed that some companies periodically pressure employees to help their companies make Glassdoor’s “Best” list or offer incentives in return for completing reviews. And we’re here to affirm – you should never incentivize employees to boost Glassdoor ratings.

The problem with the approach taken by some of the companies profiled in the WSJ article is twofold: First, they try to “game the system” rather than enable organic, authentic input from employees. Second, they assume that elevating or maintaining high Glassdoor ratings can be a quick, one-time effort.

In our work with a variety of employers, we encourage our clients to think of Glassdoor and other employer review sites in the context of a deep, multi-faceted, ongoing employer branding effort, led by a few basic tenets:

  1. Encourage ongoing feedback. It’s fine to encourage employees to post Glassdoor ratings, but this should be in the context of ongoing communication efforts. When you make a concerted push for 5-star ratings, say, in the month before the site publishes its “Best Workplaces” lists, the spike is noticeable – and could be flagged for inappropriate activity.
  1. Seek authentic feedback. Resist the impulse to suggest that your employees leave positive reviews or guide them in selecting “5-star” ratings. An authentic employer branding program that helps employees feel valued and appreciated will do more to present an honest picture of your company than coercing – however gently – a specific response. And, leave the swag behind. Offering incentives in exchange for completing reviews undermines authenticity and may leave your employees feeling manipulated.
  1. Invite everyone. Rather than request reviews from only those employees from whom you expect positive reviews, cast a wide net so that all employees feel encouraged to share. After all, the reviews – positive and negative – provide valuable insight on how your employees feel about the workplace.
  1. Examine your business with more scrutiny than your Glassdoor ratings. Reading Glassdoor posts is for employers what reading reviews is for actors and artists. It’s a good tool to help you recognize strengths on which you should build, as well as opportunities for you to improve. So, look for what it says about you in the aggregate, and be willing to scrutinize how and where you can start to make improvements.
  1. Make it easy – and non-punitive – for employees to share concerns. The easier you make it for employees to share concerns with you in an open, honest manner, the more likely they’ll be to help you make improvements, rather than voicing their frustrations online.

Above all, remember that consistency is essential to creating a welcoming, supportive workplace that makes employees happy to come to work each day. And it’s a long game. So, avoid “flavor of the month” engagement programs that change with the latest online reviews. Instead, think of it the way you might think of driving a car – pay attention to what’s immediately around you, but always keep your eyes focused further ahead to where you are going. And when negative reviews DO appear, respond promptly with an eye toward the future.

At Relish Marketing, we help our clients recognize that Glassdoor ratings are one component of their overall employer brand. When, what and how you communicate – with candidates, new hires, current employees and recruiters – make more of a difference in how potential employees see you than any online rating system.


At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward.
Savor your brand. View our client workWork with us! Contact here.


welcome original thinkers

Why Are Some Teams More Innovative?

“Why are some teams more innovative than others?” That’s a question that can make or break a business’ success. What's the secret to innovative teams? Innovative companies recognize that the best hires not only come to their teams with the right talent, skills, and experience; they also think and work in ways that match and complement each other. This understanding is the basis behind Kimberly-Clark’s award-winning Welcome Original Thinkers program.

In this story, industrial/organizational psychologist and Kimberly-Clark senior talent management consultant, Dr. Beth Demko, highlights the need to balance a blend of multiple ways of thinking with the need to solve problems and achieve results. In defining the secret to innovative teams, Dr. Demko writes, “Developing innovative solutions requires looking at problems and opportunities from different angles. To do this, teams need to be composed of members with a variety of thinking styles and diverse skill sets and experiences.” Dr. Demko also explains, “Mixing different personalities in a workgroup can guard against groupthink, a situation in which team members become so similar in outlook that they lose their capacity for creative thinking.”

Kimberly-Clark relies on Relish Marketing and other agencies to help the company continue to develop and grow its Welcome Original Thinkers approach – from the program’s launch in 2016 to the publication of expanded guides for each Original Thinker type to the company’s IdeaStorm approach to collaborative brainstorming.

Dr. Demko’s article appears as part of a series on “The Innovators” and includes insights into how Kimberly-Clark defines Original Thinking, as well as specific ways for any business to improve their teams’ creativity and effectiveness. It’s a rare peek into the science behind the success of the Kimberly-Clark approach – and we’re glad to be able to share it with you.

At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward.
Savor your brand. View our client workWork with us! Contact here.


Top Employer Branding Stats for 2018

In today’s competitive market for top talent, building a reputation as a credible employer and a great place to work is a key factor for employers. A strong employer brand can be the differentiating factor between you and a competitor and whether qualified candidates will decide to join your team – or accept a competitor’s offer instead. Attracting and hiring the best talent is critical in scaling your company and ensuring its future success. As your company continues to grow its workforce and build a strong employer brand, you can use these 2018 top employer branding stats to inform your strategy.

relish employer branding stats 2018

Top 10 Employer Brands to Relish

An employer brand can help a company recruit top talent – but a strong one encompasses the entire employee lifecycle from new hire to alumni. It’s the embodiment of a company’s employer value proposition that tells a story about the company and the people who enable it to thrive -- and it’s much more than a tagline or a few aspirational images.

At Relish Marketing, we’ve helped a wide range of companies of different sizes in multiple industries to craft employer brands that support their employment life-cycle. Here are our ten employer brands we are relishing right now.


ADP puts their people front and center on their career site with the hashtag #workhappy alongside real photos of life at ADP that showcase their employer brand, Another Brilliant Day – Compliments of You.

The “brilliant day” language and imagery communicate a sense of intelligence, accomplishment and vitality. Likewise, the “Compliments of you” component connects it back to individual employees, while suggesting an environment of appreciation.


AstraZeneca features its company values, front-and-center in its communications, encouraging employees and candidates to “Unlock the potential of what science can do.”

We give this company high marks for the way they also free candidates from the frustrations of many application experiences. Robust, user-friendly tools and information make it easy to apply for jobs and include a “Track my application” widget, application tips and hints, clear information on the hiring process and an offer to “Get in touch” via the company’s talent communities.


CISCO invites employees to share their stories through the social media campaign #WeAreCisco.

The company’s  Our People Deal Manifesto puts their Employee Value Proposition front and center, clearly stating who they are as a company, what they do and where they’re heading.

Dell Technologies

Dell Technologies offers a connected workforce program that enables employees to work where and when they choose. The company’s goal is to increase participation in this program to 50% of its workforce by 2020.

The invitation to “Build Something Greater” reinforces a sense of personal responsibility for all employees, coming together to accomplish more.

Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts a leader in digital games, content and online services, is all about creating amazing experiences for everyone and they extend that philosophy to their workforce.

The company uses gaming-style avatars to reflect the concept back to their team members – and it appears to be working well for them. In 2017, the Human Rights Campaign recognized that inclusiveness, naming Electronic Arts as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBT equality

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson has been named to the top 10 on the Fortune 500 list of Top 100 Employment Brands three years in a row, and their employer brand is presented with full transparency through the eyes – and experiences – of employees.

Employee stories are featured in captivating videos and magazine-worthy stories throughout the career site and via a real-time Twitter integration.


Kimberly-Clark boldly declares its intention to attract original thinkers who can bring their personal innovation to the company with the statement, “Welcome Original Thinkers.”

Kimberly-Clark’s interactive Original Thinker quiz gives candidates the opportunity to see themselves as original thinkers as they determine their original thinker style. It also helps candidates learn more about life at Kimberly-Clark, the company’s original brands and the original thinkers who shape those brands.


MailChimp celebrates fearlessness and risk-taking while giving back to their employees and the community with extensive employee benefits, sponsorship of nonprofits and time off for every employee to spend volunteering with the organization of their choice.

By stating, “Being yourself makes all the difference,” the company reinforces its commitment to individuality, as well as the idea that every individual can make a difference both to the company and in the world.


Salesforce celebrates an Ohana (the idea that everyone from employees to customers are family) of Trailblazers. The company wants every employee to blaze their own trail and be their best

By directing candidates and employees to, “Blaze Your Trail,” the company welcomes a sense of passionate self-direction, inspiring everyone with the confidence to be bold in their contributions, whether they’re admins or the CEO.


Zappos employees “Live to Deliver Wow”, reinforcing an environment of happy, passionate commitment to customers.

The company’s career website shows what it means to be a Zappos Insider with videos from Zapponians, a social media feed and other inside information about the company, its culture and its quest to deliver happiness. 

Not every company is right for every person, but we believe these companies offer inspiring examples of ways that companies can express their corporate personality to attract and engage the right kind of employees who will take them forward.

At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward.
Savor your brand. View our brand development client work. Work with us! Contact here.

agency relationships

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.

At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward.
Savor your brand. View our client work. Work with us! Contact here.