If you’re in the advertising industry, you’ve no doubt heard these comments before: ‘My agency is irresponsible with results’, ‘I feel like they’re just after another award, it isn’t about what’s good for the brand anymore’, ‘my agency is too slow with delivery – they take forever!’. Not many agencies are adapting their models to suit the growing concerns from their clients. Instead, the behemoths in the industry continue to accept the gulf that exists between creative and account management teams.
The result is usually a frustrated client, which usually translates into a frustrated and unhappy team. From an account management point of view, there are a few basics that we’ve adopted to better service clients. Of course, these pointers are framed within the ‘140 way’ – a method of working that we’ve developed to keep our ideas simple, sharp and focused and break down the oppressive structures that the industry is well-known for.
You’d think this would be an obvious place to start, but alas, it’s not always the case. Agencies can talk –but can they listen? The relationship should encourage both parties to challenge, share and question in a fear-free environment.
The relationship should be founded on mutual respect, and a belief in each party’s capabilities. Ultimately, both teams have the success of the brand at heart, and if respect is lost, it is very rarely recovered. Respect in the relationship enables an environment where sharing is common-place and creativity is rife.
Samantha Reinders, Marketing Director at Johnson & Johnson says that the key to successful agency relationships is treating the agency as true business partners, sharing and collaborating in a way that enables the team to deliver better. “The more information you share with your agency, the more insight they will have, the more they will be able to add value to your business. It’s one thing expecting the agency to strive to be better, but we also need to strive to be better clients.”
Positioning yourself as a TRUSTED partner
Clients often leave their selection of an agency partner until campaign elements are a way down-the-line and this can lead to disaster. The agency needs to play an integral role in the decision making process, and most importantly, identify what the brand needs, and not necessarily what the marketing team wants.
The first six months define the NEXT SIX YEARS
A relationship with a client should never commence without an adequate immersion process. Critical to long term success is sharing, defining expectations, understanding of the business as a whole as well as its objectives, voicing of fears and hopes and most importantly, getting to know each other.
Like a marriage, both parties need to be totally committed to the relationship working. Relationships take time and effort and continual work, and this is true in the partnership between a brand and an agency. Recognition on both sides is important with both the agency and client being accountable for failures and successes.
Distell has been a client of the agency for 15 years with many of their brands, and more recently with re-launched brandy OudeMeester. Genius Mnywabe, brand manager for OudeMeester, says that trust is key in the creative process. “You need to trust your agency and believe that the creative suggestions they propose are in the best interests of your brand. Honesty is also a factor, and providing a platform where the agency can challenge the client on direction, objectives or brief.”
Great relationships ultimately create great work!
Andrew Watson is head of account management at 140BBDO.
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