It’s not always easy. But, it is always necessary.
Just like any relationship, you must stoke the flames a bit. You need to find common ground, understand each other’s perspective, compromise a bit, and keep the channels of communication open.
At C2 Marketing and Design Agency, we’ve come up with the five secret ingredients to the perfect client/agency relationship.
This will be useful to you, if you’re:
- using an agency
- about to use an agency
- or, you’re an agency yourself
It certainly works for us. We hope it works for you too.
Oh, and the beady-eyed among you, will notice we use our BRIAN acronym to help us along. Nothing to do with our Creative Director, Brian Murphy you understand.
B is for briefing
It’s time to pedal out the old adage, ‘You only get out, what you put in’. In other words, if you take the time to brief your agency well, they’re likely to do a brilliant job for you.
The word Brief in this context, doesn’t have to mean Fast, does it? Yet it’s become increasingly accepted practice to brief quickly, brief poorly – and still expect amazing results at the end of it.
Yes, we’re all working at break-neck speeds, and yes, all our in-trays are spiralling out of control. But let’s clear one thing up. Agencies aren’t trying to deliberately slow anybody down. They simply want to do their very best for you.
A little up-front investment at the beginning of a project can pay dividends. Taking the time to ask questions, challenge existing thinking, clarify the thought-process – are the hallmarks of somebody trying to do an awesome job for you.
But, agencies have a big part to play here too. As an agency, your job is to create the conditions that make it easy for your client to brief you. Take charge, initiate the meetings, communicate well, create easy-to-populate templates, be accessible, and exploit technology to save time and money.
Here at C2 Business, we use video meetings via Cisco WebEx technology – and for most of our clients, that works a treat.
R is for rapport
The Oxford Dictionary definition of rapport is: A close and harmonious relationship in which the people concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas, and communicate well.
It’s not enough to see if you simply ‘click’.
The key words in the above definition are “understand” and “communicate”. Most clients worth their salt, can see pretty quickly if you’ve taken the time to understand their business and the individuals within that business – right from the get-go.
Have you checked out their digital footprint? Have you proactively perused data/reports/information about their organisation? Have you asked the right questions to ascertain where they’re coming from and where they’re heading to?
Communicating well is also fundamental to rapport building. Keep your clients informed every step of the way.
Both verbal and non-verbal communication is important too. What do you sound like when you pick up your mobile? How do you come across on email?
Here at C2 Business, we act like human beings, because that’s what we are.
We like to spend time with our clients both at work and at play. It helps break down barriers, and allows for an easy flow of communication.
You need our services, we need your custom. At a base level, that’s how client/agency agreements work.Brian MurphyFounder and CEO of C2 Busines
I is for insight
Don’t get me wrong, most clients are happy to talk about their domain. But don’t fall into the trap of getting a one-dimensional view of a company.
We live in a digital world. That means, it’s really easy to get to know a business. Look at their website, follow them on social, download reports about them, see what news coverage exists about them. It’s all free information available at your finger-tips – why wouldn’t you use it?
DILOs (Days In the Life Of), are also great for insight building. Go and spend some time in their environment – for free! And only then, can you see for yourself, what it’s like to walk in their shoes.
A is for accountability
Don’t be afraid to make roles and responsibilities crystal clear at the offset. You’re not being pedantic, you’re just trying to do an outstanding job for your client.
When you’re in the creative business, everybody has a view. Not everybody’s view is valid, nor required. The sign-off process often unearths a lack of accountability, and can grind progress to a halt. Marketing materials can’t be delivered to time, cost and quality – if they’re approved by committee.
So that’s why, accountability smooths the way for success. It’s as simple as that.
Successful delivery of projects only happens when all parties know who’s doing what, and when by.Brian MurphyFounder and CEO of C2 Busines
N is for No
But in business, the word no gets jammed in our throat, and fails to make it out of our mouths.
Sometimes, the client and agency must say no.
No, I don’t like those designs.
No, I can’t deliver by next Friday.
Guess what? It’s totally fine to say no!
Why? It engenders honesty, everyone knows where they stand, and great progress can be made as a result.