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5 Steps to Nurturing the Client-Agency Relationship

By Bethany Bloise

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One of the key ingredients to an internet marketing campaign’s success is a healthy client-agency relationship, and that relationship needs attention just like any other. If you’re not getting the most out of your agency, or if you’re an agency confused by the needs of your clients, these tips for communication should help direct you back to success.

1. Set Clear Expectations

What is your purpose for choosing this partnership? What do you want to accomplish? In a romantic relationship, if your partner wants a casual fling and you want commitment, chances are it isn’t going to last. Similarly, a client shouldn’t choose to work with an agency that won’t be committed to their goals and invested in learning their brand. Know how you will benefit from each other, and set clear, actionable goals that the two of you can agree to work toward hand in hand.

What actions do you expect from each other? In meetings together or in your own places of business, each of you may have different expectations of how the other should interact with you. Share the times and ways you prefer to be contacted, if you’re particular, and any marketing “pet peeves.” These are important things to discuss with each other from the onset of the relationship.

 

2. Have Frequent Contact

Be available. Any relationship needs to be nurtured through contact, or it slowly fizzles out. At Imagebox, our employees have set hours in the office every weekday to make sure we are available to address any client concerns. Even if communication doesn’t have to happen daily, it is still beneficial to touch base at least bi-weekly or monthly. Having open lines of communication is key to a successful relationship.Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 5.21.07 PM

Make sure everyone is happy and stays happy. This one is more on the agency, but clients aren’t exempt. Check to make sure that you as an agency are meeting expectations. You want to treat each client so they think they are your only client. On the other hand, clients should be aware that they are not the only client and try to be respectful of the agency’s time.

 

3. Educate Each Other

Clients don’t necessarily know every function of an agency. It’s the agency’s job to share their expertise and gain the trust of the client through transparent communication and explanations of processes along the way (without using industry jargon). Tell the client what’s working and why, but also tell them what’s not working and be honest about what you’ll need to do to improve it.

Agencies will never know your business as well as you do. Take time to educate your agency about your industry, your audience and your current brand so they can use the information to YOUR advantage. Client participation makes a huge impact on the quality of campaign materials produced, so get involved.

 

4. Listen

Sometimes you say the same thing, in different ways. If you take time to follow the first three steps, hopefully you’re avoiding most misunderstandings. But they still happen. Agencies should start listening to their clients so they can effectively measure their KPIs, not just the things they did that month.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 5.11.38 PMUnderstand, then be understood. Instead of trying to get your point across, listen carefully and try to understand the other person. Habit 5 in the book “7 Habits of Highly Successful People,” by Stephen R. Covey, is to seek first to understand, then to be understood. When you listen before you respond, you will then be able to better address the actual needs of your client or agency.

 

5. Give Feedback

Give things a chance to improve. Verbal affirmation is essential as you progress in any relationship. Let your agency know if they’re meeting expectations or if you need more from them. Maybe something can be done to improve things before you cancel your account, and your relationship could be stronger than ever. If not, that’s when you know it’s time to move on.

In turn, agencies should tell clients what they need improved. Suggesting more client involvement is never a bad idea, especially when you frame it to highlight the benefit that would have on their campaign.

The overarching theme through all of these points is communication. Make a point to have a substantive conversation every time you talk to each other, and client-agency relationships as well as marketing campaigns should flourish!

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