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// How to build a strong relationship with your agency

Written by Cracked // 9th February 2023

The importance of having a strong client-agency relationship has never been greater. Why?

Well, the goalposts continue to change – from how brands and agencies are working together and adapting in a hybrid world and cost of living crisis, to the ever-changing digital media landscape needing solid understanding.

So, choosing the right agency, and maintaining a healthy, progressive relationship is important so you can both flourish with your brand, even in challenging times.

In today’s fast-paced, instant and competitive landscape, generating new leads is at the top of the priority list for brands and agencies alike. More leads mean more customers. Which means more sales. And more revenue.

So, when it comes to cracking marketing campaigns, a quality client-agency relationship goes a long way and can be a springboard for success. Get it spot on and you’re likely to enjoy the fruits of it – new leads, customers, and bottom-line results. Fall short, and you’ll miss opportunities and feel the wastage of a budget that held so much promise.

Business women, conversation and laptop data with planning and strategy in office

How the client-agency relationship has changed in recent years

The most obvious cause of change was the pandemic. If businesses didn’t completely close down, then everything went online. Sure, this opened many virtual doors – cutting down on travel time and other expenditure costs. But face-to-face connections were lost, something that 85% of people prefer because they “build stronger, more meaningful business relationships.”

In an interview with Campaign, Pinterest’s Director of Business Marketing, Visha Kudhail, said “In the midst of COVID, business models at agencies drastically shifted overnight. There were far fewer client and agency interactions happening, with little or no chemistry sessions or meet-ups occurring in real life. I think the strength of relationships were really tested during this time, and even after.”

But that’s not all. Overheads within in-house marketing departments have become more stretched with the increase in costs, and businesses managing their profit and losses more tightly. And with the even bigger need for brands to cut through the noise, they’ve become more reliant on outsourcing projects to strong agencies that can deliver on this.

The benefits of a strong client-agency relationship

When your relationship with an agency is strong, you can find success and joy in almost any project or campaign you create together. It really does make all the difference.

It also means you can talk directly and honestly about problems and solutions. No judgements, just a shared goal in mind. It creates a trust that allows both you and the agency to do your jobs. And a cracking job at that. They know you’ve given them what they need. And you know they’re pushing their creative capabilities to deliver you the best work possible.

How do you improve your relationship? And what can you do to make sure it’s working?

Have a clear idea of what you want from your agency

There’s no better way to kick off a partnership than starting with a clear idea on what you want. This stretches from communicating your brand goals and targets for the year ahead, to sharing handy details in every brief you send

Clear and honest communication

According to Campaign, 81% of brands believe clear and honest communication is a key ingredient for driving growth in a partnership, with 75% of agencies in agreement.

When a deadline’s looming and money is on the line, you owe it to yourself to give honest feedback. The more open and clear you are, the better your agency will understand (and then deliver!) what you want and the quicker you’ll build trust in the partnership.

Trust in their expertise, because they trust in yours

Good campaigns and projects come from good ideas and strategy. While you’ll always have final say on what to go with, you’re paying an agency for their expertise in coming up with ideas and strategies for you. In the same Campaign survey, 61% of brands said they choose an agency based on the quality of their ideas, with 82% of brands saying strategic thinking helps grow the partnership. And with an experienced agency, you’ll often find that over the years, they’ve helped brands overcome similar challenges that you’re facing today.

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On the flip side, they’ll value your experience with your brand, too. Because you know all the little details that make the difference and can help immerse them in your world. So, sharing your expertise (like pointing them in the right direction to the right people) will help their processes and make for a smoother journey. The result? Informed work and clever ideas that hit the nail on the head each time!

Be willing to take creative risks with your agency

It’s normal – especially for successful brands – to maintain what’s worked until now. But, as we’ve already considered, the world around us changes. And it’s heart-breaking when brands fall behind the competition if they don’t pay close attention or get complacent.

If you can sense that times are changing – or your agency suggests such – talk with them. Set the parameters for where you want to take creative risks, and where you’d prefer to play it safer. If you can feel an opportunity or strategy that’s bold, brave and true to your brand, explore with this with your agency. Because they want create great work with you. Work that evolves your brand and shakes up an industry.

Let the relationship evolve

Markets and consumer trends are always changing. As are the internal workings of brands like yours, and agencies. A good client-agency relationship is like any other healthy relationship. It needs to cater for change, keep pace, and not stagnate to get the best results over the long-term.

How we build meaningful and fruitful client-agency relationships

Every food and drink brand we work with – be it B2B or B2C – is unique. And we treat them like it.

The best way to make the most of our relationships is to become an extension of your team. That way, we can really get under the skin of your brand and understand it. We’re honest and direct, and as part of your team, we invite and encourage the same, throughout a project’s timeline. It’s a partnership after all, and we’re no strangers to having the difficult but worthwhile conversations in the name of creating work that wows (and delivers!). And we’re not afraid to throw a creative curveball or two to spark a client’s intrigue. Because if we don’t show what’s possible with a little slice of risk, we’re not doing our job to its full potential.

If you’re looking to shake up your brand or need a trusted pair of hands to lighten your marketing load, we’ve got the broad set of capabilities and first-hand industry experience to offer creative new perspectives (and opportunities!) for your marketing challenges.

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