According to a recent survey done by Digiday, only 44% client-side marketing executives believe their agencies’ business interests are aligned with their company’s business interests, and this is not shocking, unfortunately.
Keeping a healthy brand-agency relationship has never been easy, especially if you’re working in a demanding, fast-paced marketing ecosystem, working on daily briefs and campaigns going live in less than half a day, tension may quickly rise from time to time and it is possible to end up with a few divergencies within the team.
Having a client on board is not too different from making a new friend; what you plant now will definitely harvest later on, and agencies/consultants must be the ones to lead, and take the hit when necessary.
If you want to create & maintain a healthy relationship within a client-consultant setup, I believe these 3 basic rules will help you move fast:
1- Be data oriented in every case.
Whether it is about working on the communication strategy or media plan, do your research and bring as much data as possible on the table. This will help you (both) manage expectations in a much more realistic way. It’s also very important to approach every situation with data. Did that Facebook ad not convert as high as you were expecting? How can you compare it with a similar one you did a month ago, or a year ago? What sort of meaningful outputs can you take from that comparison?
Once you leave your personal thoughts aside, and start speaking on factual content, you’ll be easy to relate to, and you’ll sound more objective to the case you’re working on. That’s especially important when things are going in the direction you didn’t plan to. As long as you’re aware and focused on the fix, that’s fine, we all make mistakes, and the important part is how much effort you put in to make it better.
2- ‘US’ instead of ‘your team’ vs. ‘our team’.
This literally begins day 1, as you start with the introductions, and shall proceed forever. There should be none of you / me or your team / my team, there should only be one team, with one clear purpose.
There’s a simple reason why a client decides to open doors to third parties / contractors, as it might make more sense to close a certain gap of knowledge / skill set / particular task with an outsourced support.
This shouldn’t mean once the client has the ask (and the budget) they should also be in charge of everything in the room. That’s unhealthy. If you are a consultant, and you’re in the room because you know a particular subject better than anyone else in that room, you should also take the responsibility to lead everyone, when the time comes, in a team like approach.
I know you didn’t pick all of the team members, and that’s the hardest part. A great leader should have the great sense to lead everyone, regardless of who gets their paycheck from whom.
3-If there’s anything wrong, let me know now.
Not tomorrow, not the day after. Now. Once you skip solving a small issue, you tend to pave the way into creating a bigger issue. This part is not really different than maintaining any form of relationship, if there’s something wrong, you need to sit down and talk about it, and offer solutions.
Remember, if you try to hide the truth, or seek to put the blame into others, someone eventually will get it, but that won’t help solve the case for anyone. The best way to go forward is to be solution oriented, and have the decent, friendly manner while doing it.
If you can stick to these 3 basic rules, you may form a ‘team’ based on trust, and remember: The best results come from teams that each member fully trust one another.
You’re a superhero if you’ve read until here, so please take one more step to comment & share your feedbacks and let’s keep the conversation going. Peace!