How do you build a powerful relationship? Are they made, or do they happen organically? Is it someone’s job to own and build it? How do you identify the invaluable relationship-building activities that really count? This blog considers these questions through three lenses: the client, the creative and the suit.
A very dear client said something this morning that made me reflect on how wonderful a strong client-agency relationship is. She said: “I think of myself as one of you – as I know you think of yourselves as one of us.” And we do.
But this is so much more than just a platitude. It’s testimony to a solid relationship built and invested in over a number of years, with its foundations in trust, empathy, respect and accountability. In fact, there’s nothing more powerful. But how do you build a brilliant and powerful relationship? Are they made, or do they happen organically? Is it someone’s job to own and build it – or now, more than ever, do all roles play a key function? Something that we feel more than ever in today’s time-poor and efficiency-driven environments, how do you identify and (I hate to say it) justify the invaluable relationship-building activities that really count? To try and find the holy grail, we’ve looked at these questions through three lenses: the client, the creative and the suit.
The client: Marion McKay, Department for International Trade
The client/agency relationship can have the greatest impact on a successful project. Connecting on a more personal level adds insight into preferences, interpretation of material and how to handle situations when issues arise. The status of this relationship can mean the difference between good marketing campaigns and great ones – a relationship is a two-way street. To create something amazing, you need to have a shared vision of the end outcome and have the confidence and respect to exchange creative ideas and strategies. In my experience, the stronger the link, the smoother the project goes.
The status of the client/agency relationship can mean the difference between good marketing campaigns and great ones.
The creative: Aidan Brennan
The biggest challenge to creatives in building relationships can often be getting in the room. With a relationship traditionally held by a consultant or account manager, involving creatives early on is key and has clear benefits for all.
Many clients enjoy engaging with the creative process. They relish the opportunity to stretch their own creative muscle, which can be an inspiring and rewarding experience. And for creatives, working closer with a client means they get a better understanding of the motives and ambition behind the facts and stats. What’s more, those early ‘brief encounters’ foster a genuine team effort all round.
The Suit: Ciara Rollings
With a naturally central role, it’s often account management who are first to get wind of a brief before any colleagues are involved. This is the time to understand, listen, and probe, so that an attitude of openness – as well as a seed of curiosity – can take root in the client’s mind before others enter the room. If account managers are doing their job properly, they use this as a chance to foster a strong relationship and set up a project for success – even at this nascent stage. But this takes time; time that is not always chargeable, but is a crucial investment to get a great outcome for both the client and the agency.
So, what’s the answer? A strong relationship takes exceptional collaboration – and time. Collaboration across both agency teams and with the client, to foster understanding and form that connection. And time, too – take the time to discuss and to build understanding, value and respect – and with it, the relationship.