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How to make working together work

3 min read

Stronger client and agency relationships

Recently, we spoke with several of our clients about their expectations of our team. We learned they wanted:

  • Alignment with their business goals and culture

  • Increased collaboration

  • An iterative partnership (co-development of the plans and ideas)

  • Continuity (in the account team)

  • True integration of ideas across all platforms

  • Responsiveness

  • Cost-effective production 

  • Empathetic and respectful relationship

  • Innovation

  • Data-driven brand plans

  • Flexibility

With this in mind, we developed a road map for how we can work more effectively together, how we can work more effectively with our clients and how we would like our clients to work with us. Dubbed collaboration tenets, these rules of the road establish expectations of how we will work together with our clients to better address their needs. The short e-blast message we sent you expressed five expectations we have of our clients. 

  1. Assume positive intent. Your agency partner wants you to win. Really, we do.

  2. Align your input into a single voice. If you are concerned that your agency isn't listening, it might be the agency is hearing conflicting opinions. Collaboration works best when your internal team is marching lockstep.

  3. Provide the freedom of a tightly defined strategy. The best creative work is a result of a very narrow remit.

  4. Decision makers should attend presentations. Meetings aren’t times to be swayed. They are your time to be heard. 

  5. Not the how, the why. Every idea can be made better with a clear understanding of why the provided solution isn’t meeting expectations.

Two more thoughts apply.

  1. Third time is the charm. Revisions happen. That’s just the nature of the creative process. We have found that if the idea isn’t meeting the mark after three rounds of revisions, it’s time to move on to a new idea.

  2. Celebrate success. Analyze failure. Continuously improve. In a world that now allows for instantaneous measurement of results, we must work hand-in-hand monitoring results while optimizing throughout the duration of the program.

As with every successful relationship, it’s incumbent on both parties to put forth their full effort. Our post suggested how you can get more from your agency. In turn, the way your agency responds to you is as important. Your agency should:

  • Assume positive intent. Clients want to produce great work an agency can be proud of. Really, they do.

  • Share quickly. Document fully. Bring alternative concepts to the table quickly, allowing for more participative development, while eliminating wasted time perfecting directions that fail to delight. Document learnings to confirm direction.

  • Create iteratively. Adjust thinking to allow for a natural give and take that leads to co-creation of stronger, more persuasive communication.

  • Articulate why. Multiple decisions are made in the creative development process resulting in the final execution. Better explaining why they executed an idea in a particular manner helps everyone make better decisions about the work.

  • Be open to client suggestions. It seems thunderingly obvious that delighting in a great idea, regardless of its point of origin, makes it possible to produce consistently better work.

  • Find a way to say YES, AND. Don’t simply accept a client suggestion: build on it, make it bigger and more differentiated, integrating the idea across all consumer touch points.

Building belief is our shared responsibility. Belief in your brand from your intended audiences. Belief in your team. Belief in each other.

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