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Article | by Kay Edwin
Which ever side of the fence you sit on, the question of how to get the best from your agency is always a hot topic.
‘Best’ is the operative word in this article. The client-agency dynamic cannot blossom when the relationship is focused on simply getting the ‘most’ from your agency. But how do you know that you’ve picked the right one in the first place?
Like any great partnership, a solid client-agency relationship should be founded on two things: trust, and effective two-way communication.
As the client, you have unrivalled insight into your products, customers and brand. Your agency should want to spend time with you to farm that knowledge, as it will help them to shape their briefs and deliver great work.
Your agency should deliver to best practice and look to update and educate you along the way – helping you to understand what is involved in their work and how they envisage your role in the project. If you can, work with an agency that you trust and with people you can get along with. Work with people who have skills you admire or skills you require.
Irrespective of location, sector or size of business, some clients get the best out of their agencies and some don’t. Those that do are repaid with award-winning, superior results for their initiatives, and an agency team that will move mountains to deliver for them.
So, once you’ve picked the right agency, how do you go about getting the best from them?
A written (as opposed to verbal) brief is essential, even in long term client-agency relationships where both sides have a thorough understanding of the brand.
Agency bods know how busy our clients are, but your agency team is probably just as busy. The time it takes to write your thoughts down in a brief will be returned ten-fold when you receive work that meets your expectations, and your brief will act as a reference point throughout the project. If you want the best work, brief your agency on the problem and not the solution.
Telling your agency how much you want to spend is not a carte blanche for the agency to spend at will. Not providing a budget in the hope that you’ll get the cheapest possible price is an inefficient way of working – your agency team will waste time creating ideas and solutions that you simply can’t afford. That in itself is frustrating for both sides.
Rely on the trust within your client-agency relationship and tell your agency how much you want to spend. Transparency allows you to find ways of saving money that don’t crucify the idea or burn budget by producing numerous proposals with costs that have been second-guessed.
We know that all clients are handed unrealistic deadlines on a regular basis ('I need this in the next hour’). Agencies will always meet your deadline, but the quality of what you get back will most likely be rushed and, in some cases, not to the standard you were expecting.
Managing expectations internally is a fine art, but once mastered, it will give you and your agency time to respond with something that is well thought out and fully meets the needs of the business.
Agency folk thrive on working in fast-paced, highly creative environments. We’re motivated to find solutions to problems, make your customers look at your brand in a new vein, or simply inspire your approach in future with our knowledge and creativity.
It’s not about the money – we’re driven by the idea of creating award-winning work, work that no one has ever done before. We’re driven to travel to the other side of the globe on a weekend economy flight to work with our clients internationally.
Find out more about our international client base
Financial investment alone will not maximise the return you want to see from your agency. Both sides need to invest in the time it takes to understand one another and to work as one cohesive team, putting into practice many of the points referenced in this article.
Do that, and you could be well on your way to having those mountains moved on your behalf.