The agency-client relationship is always a hot topic among marketers and the tone of the conversation is always dependent on your experience.
If you are a client that has had terrible engagements with agencies, then you are naturally negative and dismissive of what an agency can do for your company. If you are an agency that has struggled to please clients and dealt with high turnover of your client base, then you also are likely to feel jaded.
A recent study on the agency-client dynamic, appropriately called Mad Men to Sad Men, reveals the frustrations of both clients and agencies in a landscape that is fast-paced, fiercely competitive and crowded with an exploding number of specialists, tools and technologies.
The study summarizes what agencies are saying:
And what clients are saying:
Clearly both sides in these types of engagements have valid frustrations that may lead to breakups. The industry average for length of a client-agency relationship is 3.2 years, and I would argue that the average is shorter in the small-to-midsized market where clients simply move fast and do not have the patience to wait it out if they feel things are not going well.
The good news is that the agency-client relationship can work successfully for everyone involved. I have seen it happen again and again, both within our agency and with many of our agency friends who share stories of long-standing client relationships that are fruitful, fun and focused on mutually great outcomes. There are even 40 known client-agency relationships that have lasted an average of 22 years!
The clients and agencies in long, positive relationships have mastered the secret to success...
Clients AND agencies play a key role in a successful engagement.
Role of the Agency
Your agency is the one getting paid, so the pressure is on them to deliver. They need to:
Role of the Client
As the client, yes you are paying the bill but that does not mean you can sit back and expect success. You need to:
I love this article that outlines the four types of agency-client relationships because it forces both agencies and clients to take ownership of their role in the engagement, to see that the relationship is a two-way street. And when referring to the best relationship, the great-agency-great-client combo, Anselo Ramos writes:
It looks like advertising heaven, but it’s not. This is actually the hardest relationship. There are disagreements and discussions, fights and frustration, crying and cursing. It’s like a real marriage. Not every day is great, but every day you make a conscious choice to stay together in the name of great work.
Here’s to great work!
Before Maureen Condon became one of the Principals of PMG in 2006, she was a writer and a business owner – which explains why she specializes in content marketing and strategy. Covering topics that will help businesses get real, measured results from marketing – success you can see in numbers – Maureen likes to back companies in their efforts to create a strategy, a compelling message, and programs that connect with prospects, clients and influencers in ways that drive sales. And she does so, with panache!
Tags: Outsourced Marketing