The ‘relationship’ is a fashionable topic in advertising at the moment.
When people talk about 'the relationship' in advertising they mean the client/agency relationship.
And they're talking about it for good reason, as the the average tenure rate of agencies is at an all-time low.
In the 1980's the average tenure rate of ad agencies was over 7 years, now it's somewhere between 2 and 3 years.
So something's not right somewhere, I think we can safely say?
The trouble is, they’re trying to solve the symptoms and not attacking the real problem.
The client-agency relationship is about a lot more than just ‘getting along’, having round-table love-ins, or bonding at corporate hospitality events.
That's what these daft 'chemistry meetings' are designed to try to improve.
You need to start with the fundamentals of why the agency and client are working together in the first place.
Ideas, creativity, advertising.
There needs to be a shared, explicit understanding between agency and senior clients of how advertising, and the agency, can best help the client’s business.
That's where all the problems really start, not with personalities.
But it is true that client-agency relationships have been eroded by poor behaviour and bad practices over the years.
But start with the fundamental - the ideas.
Let's remember that the best ideas tend to be created in a working relationship
of mutual trust and respect between agency and client.
So it's important to create a platform of stability by working out
a financial relationship that can work long-term for both parties.
And make it known that both parties are in it for long-term success, and that you won’t let short-term issues derail the working relationship.
Always stick to promises, provide support and be honest and transparent. Allow each other the space to perform their specialism, respect each other’s opinion and listen to their recommendations.
As a client, it’s likely that you will get much better advertising from your agency if you have a long-term, stable relationship built on mutual trust and respect.
Client and agency don't have to be best buddies, in constant state of happy delirium, and its foolish to try to measure a professional relationship, where debate and disagreement is important, on those kinds of touchy-feely grounds.
They only have to work together enough to get great work, and sometimes it's okay if there are disagreements and debates.
And in the end, well, you'll find that when brilliant work is being done, and it's being successful – everyone tends to get along okay, regardless of personality type.
And that's my relationship advice.
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