The honeymoon phase when you start with a new agency is an exciting time. Everything is new and wondrous. There are fun people to meet and exciting plans to talk about. You’re awash with that new-relationship glow.
But like any relationship, after that initial buzz wears off you’re left with reality and the need to deal with the daily challenges of working together to meet your business goals. That’s when the real work (and fun) starts. From here on, the way you approach the relationship has a big impact on how the whole thing will play out. So here’s a few things to get you off on the right foot.
Choose an agency with the right chemistry.
Most agencies are creative, but chemistry between agency and client is the real secret sauce that enthuses and energises the work and every interaction. It’s what makes every brief exciting and every review a celebration. It’s all about fit. So, choose wisely.
Judging the right chemistry can be tricky and it’s going to depend on what’s most important to you. Think about your own values and your company culture. Are you a buttoned-down law firm or are you shorts-wearing startup?
Before you choose the agency, get to know them first. Consider how they present themselves, how they talk and how they behave. Go out for drinks if that’s your thing. Just make sure you click, because it’s going to make things snappy down the line.
Be a team player, not a tyrant.
The quickest way to get to more interesting solutions is to encourage the free flow of ideas. The best clients are great at making their agency feel independent enough to take a few risks and have a little fun. A good brand manager doesn’t expect to dictate proceedings. They will paint a vision of where the brand needs to go, not a paint-by-numbers template for the designers and copywriters to follow. The fastest way to shut down the creative process is to provide a checklist of things that need to be ticked off.
Realise that it’s not all up to them (or you).
A good agency-client partnership is an interplay between the information and guidance you can provide and the creativity and flair your agency brings to the mix. Some clients only want to initiate the project and wait for genius to be laid at their feet. After all, if you’re paying for a service, you should expect to be served, right?
Well, yes. The agency should be going out of its way to serve your needs. But they need things from you to do this. Stuff like information, time, enthusiasm and constructive feedback and yes, approval. If you’re impatient with the process and don’t want to invest the time to help the creatives to understand the nuances, then you’re setting the agency up to disappoint you.
Let them gain your trust.
Steve Jobs kept Apple with the same advertising agency for over 30 years. The reason? He trusted them. When push came to shove, he knew he could count on TBWA/Chiat/Day to be honest with him and deliver the best quality work no matter what it takes. And because he trusted them, they could trust him not to fire them for having crazy ideas.
Trust means going into every project with the intention to work in good faith. It means trusting in your agency’s ability to provide creative solutions. It means everyone approaches the task with the intention to help each other find the best answer to the problem.
Trust means letting go. And that can be tough. Sometimes it’s hard to develop trust when stress levels are high and business goals are on the line. But if you work with the right agency, over time they will prove their value through their work. But only if you let them.
With trust, there’s virtually no limit to what you can do together. However, you need to give them the chance to earn it.
In the market for a new agency? Get in touch & let’s see if we click!