Posted on 19 Mar 2019
Creative Director, Simon Couchman explains why an open and honest working relationship with your agency is integral to a successful marketing strategy.
At a recent meeting in the early stages of a new client relationship, the MD asked us what our ethos was as a business. We didn't come up with some convoluted marketing speak but simply confessed that it was down to developing good client relationships based on openness and trust.
And perhaps, in the digital age with tech updates from Google and Facebook coming thick and fast, the need for good client/agency relationships is more than important than ever before.
Whenever we on-board a new client, there's always a big learning curve - getting to know the sector, understanding the challenges and the competition as well as how to create 'stand out' and engagement.
Just as vital is getting to know the client - the people, the dynamics and what's important to them.
An agency that is prepared to dig down into the detail to understand what makes the client tick makes a big difference.
A copywriter can't come up with key messages when they don't understand what you do and an account manager can't come up with strategy and tactics without being aware of your business networks.
Having a client agency relationship where you can talk openly also means that both parties can push back and experiment without being frightened of failure, which is especially important given the current marketing trends.
Increasing use of digital spend, smart use of data, personalisation, the growth of voice, emerging marketing channels and social and influencer marketing is opening up lots of new opportunities.
Increasingly brands are now keen to trial or pilot new tech to stay one step ahead of the competition and not surprisingly, they want an agency that has the same mind-set.
For example, social advertising is giving clients the confidence to try new things without committing major resource; campaigns can be easily monitored and manipulated in real time to ensure they are reaching the right people at the right time.
Clients want their marketing agencies to be brave, to be agile and not to be frightened. Agencies can rise to the challenge when they are confident in their client relationships.
This openness also works effectively in other areas too - when it comes to addressing issues around resource, costs and time spent.
At the end of the day, both agency and client need to get something out of the relationship. In most cases, it generates loyalty on all sides - agencies can pull clients out of a tight hole such as an unexpected deadline or support them when it comes to requirements outside the normal parameters - pro bono work for a community event or charity.
Get it right and your agency is just an extension of your marketing department with very much the same loyalty and commitment as your own team.
Simon Couchman is ICG's Creative Director