Relationships permeate every aspect of our lives both personal and professional. The advertising business is essentially a people business. In a world that revolves around things as abstract as brands, perceptions and ideas, relationships are bound to be highly volatile and emotionally charged.
With economy still sluggish and consumer-spend in decline, cracks are appearing in an already complex client-agency relationship. In these trying times patience is thinner, loyalty is weaker and understanding is shallower. The good old days when clients were happy to see increases in brand awareness metrics are gone. Now the agencies are judged on the ROI they deliver rather than by their creative output.
In 1984, the average client-agency relationship tenure was 7,2 years. Today that number has declined to less than 3 years.
A clear trend in client-agency relationships is to terminate those that under-perform. In 1984, the average client-agency relationship tenure was 7,2 years. By 1997 (13 years later), that number declined by 25% to 5,3 years. Today the average client-agency tenure is thought to be less than three (!) years.
A startling statistic at a time when most agency-client relationships appear to be moving away from being simply transactional. If marketers have on average only 18 months in a company, then, in an uncontrollable spin, the marketing plans are shredded, agencies are reviewed and relationships are broken.
Any agency that becomes a trusted partner and advisor in providing a client with creative solutions will enjoy a long, fulfilling partnership with the client.”
While it is important for agencies to demonstrate transparency and effectiveness, it is also crucial that marketers are honest about their ambitions and challenges. Any agency that becomes a trusted partner and advisor in providing a client with creative solutions will enjoy a long, fulfilling partnership with the client.”
Avoiding the pitfall of failed relationships
Smart agencies and clients understand that a strong partnership will produce the best work that leads to better business results. As said before, to build such a strong relationship, all lines of communication must be open and honest.
To build a strong relationship, all lines of communication must be open and honest. Making information accessible and sharing it freely is essential in building trust between the agency and the client.
Making information accessible and sharing it freely is essential in building trust between the agency and the client. The expectations need to be transparent and both sides must have a clear idea of what the other party expects from them. When there is no consistency in expectations, trust will erode and blame games begin.
To create sustainable long term relationships, both parties must have a mutually agreed upon definition of what success means to each. To increase accountability of the results, necessary metrics should be developed to evaluate the performance of the campaigns. A fair remuneration system must be built that aligns the agencys aims with the clients needs and priorities.
How to get the most out of the client-agency relationship
Obviously, sustaining a successful relationship is a two-way street. Neither just the client nor the agency can exert all the effort. Here are a number of simple attitudes and behaviors that foster communication and create a long-term, successful client-agency relationship.
A good marriage
If you think about campaigns and work that everyone admires, for the most part they come out of long-term relationships, where the agency understands the brand at depth. They don’t need briefings; they have it in their souls.
At Mosquito two of our top 10 clients have been with us for 20 years. The rest of these top 10 brands have worked with us for 7 years on average. We believe the reason why is because we see our clients as our partners. We guide them strategically and creatively and help them make profitable growth in their businesses.
Mosquitos been in the business for 20 years. Were very proud of our agency, our clients and the relationship we have with them. As Shelly Lazarus, chairman of WPP’s Ogilvy, once said: its like a good marriage. “It’s trust, very open dialogue and a presumption that the relationship will continue to get stronger.”