How can client-agency relationships be improved?
The relationship between the client (advertiser) and the advertising agency can be one of the most complexes in the business environment, requiring a substantial level of collaboration to be effective. In our fast-paced and often less-than-optimally structured reality, we need to create a worry-free foundation for our collaboration. Because we believe that the absence of worry means we can focus all our time and energy on the reason we exist: creating world-class quality work for our clients.
Here are three client-agency challenges we've experienced and what we do to solve them.
1) The inside-out perspective.
CHALLENGE: Client briefs are often very clear on backgrounds, facts, performances, objectives – i.e. all the hard facts. But when it comes to the soft facts, the knowledge is often too shallow. The true needs and dreams among the target audience and the true brand position (of both own and competitors’ products) are rather assumptions than reality. Or based on how the client would like them to be. It causes both client and agency to start off from the wrong place.
SOLUTION: Add a strategic planning function to the project to secure that the situations analysis is truly fact-based and realistic.
2) ”Me, the target group.”
CHALLENGE: For example, if you are in the wine business because you are passionate about wine, you are probably the least suitable person to judge a campaign for wines. The main consumers of your products will probably find, choose, buy, storage, open, serve, drink and experience the products in a very different manner. Or at least 90% of them do. So, if you want to reach more than the 10% who are on your own level, you need to get under the skin of that other 90 % – only to discover that they don't live, breath and dream about wine the way you do.
SOLUTION: Present the right facts in the right way and context for the client to take its well-informed decisions.
3) ”But” comes before gut.
CHALLENGE: Clients in the advertising industry have one of the toughest and most difficult roles when it comes to actually buy, approve and evaluate the work. On one hand, you must stand on your knowledge and rational priorities, but on the other hand, you also must develop and trust your gut instinct for how the work will hit the market. Common result: campaigns both client and agency have enthusiastically agreed on are watered down just before the finish line.
SOLUTION: Regardless how you feel about it, you also need to consider the recommendation from the agency. After all, people in advertising are professionals. It's their job to live and breath the markets they operate in, and they are getting paid to observe people and their behavior, preferences and to understand their inner dreams.
Quality lies not only in how we create our work, but also in how we administer it.
Agreements are crucial for us – between all stakeholders, in all areas. We start our relations with defining clear work processes, the scope of work, who does what, who is responsible for what, pricing level, liability, what usage rights should always be included in quotes, etc. This clarity makes us faster and more flexible. Which results in better work, and thus better client-agency relations. A good spiral.
As the old oriental proverb goes: Discipline creates freedom.
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