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The Client Agency Relationship

02 November 2018
The Client Agency Relationship

Every relationship has its ups and downs, but one relationship that we never talk about is the relationship between an agency and their client. We’re going to dive into how your relationship should get better and be better. This is your Daily Development.

All right, so we’ve had a few weeks of some awesome guests [on our podcasts], going back from Michael Gass, Jason Swenk, Jason Blumer, but today I’ve gotten a few emails where folks said, “Eric, we want to hear from you.” So today I’m going to give you me. We’re going to talk about the agency/client relationship; how it can be better, and what makes it worse. So let’s dive into it today. Agency/client relationships, at first it starts out, you are their best friends, you can do no wrong, and then it hits you. You guys want to get a divorce at somehow, someway.

And a lot of reasons why agencies and client’s kind of break up is, a lot of times it’s communication. So we’ll get into that in another episode. But let’s talk about the agency/client relationship on how it can be better. I think one of the best things that you can do, as an agency, is be very transparent with your client. And one of the best things that you can do as a client with your agency is, let them do their job, and also just communicate with them. Let them know exactly where you stand, what you need, what your goals are, and stop looking at your agency as just a vendor, but consider them a partner. And from agencies, from our standpoints, we should start considering our clients as partners, and actually partner with them instead of line iteming them all the time. What do I mean by line iteming them? I mean by you picking up the phone, calling them, you bill them, the next thing you know; or if they have a question for you, or a question about something they don’t understand, you are billing them. This can quickly lead to a breakup, or a divorce.

So it’s also good for an agency to educate your client. They may not understand everything that you’re doing, but at least teach them, educate them. As an agency, it is our job not only to partner with our clients, but to give them success; but we also want to let them know exactly what we’re doing. So be transparent with them. Also communicate goals, communicate ideas with them, so that you can help them reach the goals that they need for their business. If you’re walking in the doors in an agency, and all you’re thinking about is how much money you can make off a client, you will be out of business within five years. I said it. If you walk in the door, and you think with every client how much money you’re going to make off that client, then you will be out of business within five years. It is a true partnership, and you must think of it that way.

You have to partner with your client all the time, in every aspect of their business. It’s just like a relationship, as if you’re dating. At first, you know, you guys go out to dinner a few times, you hold hands, and, you know, you may get to first base, or second base; you’ve got to think about it that way with your client. Without the holding hands and kissing part, but how do you get to first base with a client? How do you get to first base? Think about that. You should look at the same way you do, as if you’re playing a sport. What is first base with a client? What’s second base? What’s third base? And what is a homerun for a client? What do I mean by that homerun? I mean what exactly is it that is special about you, that’s going to make that client say, “I can’t do business without my agency.” Have you become an appendage to your client? If not, you should be.

It’s not just for agencies, but I would want to say I’m speaking more to the clients. Because a lot of the times the agencies doing the work, they’re giving the value, but the client, it’s like mums the word. They don’t want to reciprocate, or give feedback to agencies, when they’re doing well. Start telling your agency, “Good job.” Start telling them, “Hey, I couldn’t have done this without you.” Sometimes you really couldn’t. Give them the praise that they deserve. It makes for a better relationship. It’s no different from, when you have your date, and you say, “You look great in your dress.” Tell your agency when they’re doing a great job. Don’t surprise them, and just say, “Hey, you’re fired,” or “this isn’t working out.” Give them constant feedback. The same way you would do in any relationship. When you court one another, and then when you start dating, you think about your marriage. What’s going to be great for you guys? Communicate. Always communicate.

So in baseball, you have first base, second base, third base, and when you get home, you score. That’s when everyone wins, right? So I talked about, you know, kind of having a relationship between the agency, and also between the client. And I wanted you to think of it as the same three bases, and on the first base, the most important tool in any business, it’s communicate. That’s where the client and the agency communicate about everything. As a client, you have to tell your agency what your goals are, what keeps you up at night, you know, what happens, if we don’t hit our goal? What are our goals? What are margins? All these things actually help your agency to make better decisions for you, and help you come up with better plans. Tell them what worked before, what didn’t work. If you had an agency before, and you fired them, tell your agency why. Let them know. And, also, you have to be able to change. So the first thing you have to do, like we said, the first base is communicating. Make sure you communicate with one another.

As an agency, you have to make sure that you are transparent. Let them know what your fees are. Let them know what your margins are. I think it’s important for them to know, because what you don’t want them to find out is, your fees are one thing, and down the road you make it another, and your client feels like you’re not honest. And if you’re not communicating what’s going to happen is, there’s going to be some derailment within your relationship. So as an agency be transparent, and as a client, you should be open. You should be transparent as well. Divulge what success really looks like. Help your agency with KPI metrics from the beginning. What are KPI metrics? That’s your key performance indicators. That’s what a successful campaign looks like.

So that way, when your agency, or your partner agency, is actually carrying out your wishes, and building a development campaign, that they know exactly what you’re looking for. If it’s SEO, if it’s SEM, if it is building a new website, a new TV campaign created, whatever it is, just be honest, and be upfront with them. Now, second base, going to second base, that’s consider. You want to be considerate. And you want to be able to be open to whatever they present to you. Don’t shoot things down without actually letting them explain exactly what it is. So, for instance, if they present an idea to you on paper, immediately you may shoot it down, because you just can’t see yourself coming up with the words; but you may never realize what a great creative could be if you don’t allow them the opportunity to present it. So second base should definitely be consider. Be open. Be open to new ideas. Be open to new strategies. Be open to learning something new. If the agency’s doing their job they’re teaching you something, and you should listen. So being considerate is definitely important.

Now third base. That is where you compliment one another. As an agency, you tell your client, “Great job.” Because you don’t do it alone. As an agency, we’re responsible for leads, we’re responsible for traffic. And if you’re good at your job, you bring them in the door, and if your clients doing their part they sell them the service, or product, or whatever it may be. So you compliment. That’s your third base, you compliment. As a client, you want to complement your agency. Because I want you to think about it. These are folks that actually walk into it every day with a blank slate, and they come up with ideas, creative strategies, based on what you tell them. So you may have been in business for 15, 18 years, and your agency walks in with a blank slate.

If you communicate with them, and you consider what they present to you, then, hopefully, you can have an accomplishment where you are complimenting them on what they have provided for you, as far as products, or services. So agencies compliment your clients, and clients don’t forget to compliment your agencies. I’ve seen that a lot in our industry, where we may say, “Great job” to a client, but clients don’t always tell you, when you’re doing a great job. I don’t know if it’s a fear of, you know, we don’t want to let them know how great they are, or how much we need them, but it makes for a better relationship. And think about this, would you not tell your wife how great she looks in that dress? If not, she’s going to wonder how she looks. She’ll feel a sense of insecurity. So why not compliment your agency.

And for agencies, you should compliment your clients. So that’s my first base, second base, and third base. Now, let’s talk about the homerun. That’s when everyone wins. That’s when you have success. That’s when that client’s cash registers ringing. That is success. It’s not about the awards for agency. It’s about helping to keep that business owner in business. Every business owner goes into it with a mindset of, they want to be in business for a long time. If the agency’s doing their part, and the client’s doing their part, then you should be in business for a while. All right, so I just gave you the baseball diamond of first base, second base, third base, and home, and how client relationships are just super important.

So I want you to remember those three C’s that we just came up with between agency relationships and client relationships, that’s communicate, consider, and compliment; and if you do those things, you can have some accomplishment between the two of you.

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