The five rules of successful client-agency relationships
The five rules of successful client-agency relationships
A view from Mette Davis

The five rules of successful client-agency relationships

Collaboration is the key to a successful client and agency dynamic, writes Mette Davis, director of digital and regional Innovation at the MAA.

Buckminster Fuller said: "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

There has been a lot of talk over the past six months about the state of the industry and the need to inject some energy back into it. So it seemed fitting to host the MAA’s ‘Agency of the Future’ panel debate in Bristol, the heart of the Silicon Gorge, and one of the UK’s fastest growing creative, tech and innovation hubs, buzzing with brilliant agencies.

Hot off the heels of the launch of the MAA’s Collaboration Report, agencies, clients and industry professionals gathered from across the South West to elaborate on how clients and agencies can work better together, to set the industry for future success. Five key points emerged:   

Be open to change

In a world that’s changing so fast, we need to be as open to change as consumers and the young talent we want to attract to our industry are. The saying, ‘A job is for life’ is no longer relevant. Find new ways to recruit talent, and start hiring from a more diverse talent pool.  That is where we will find inspiration.

Focus on clarity

The proliferation of consumer touch-points has made our quest for the single-minded proposition a rare beast. But brands and agencies must bring back clarity in everything we do. From expectation setting, to briefing, the reason for briefing, creative ideas, and feedback on those ideas. If agencies can’t understand what is being asked of them, how can we expect consumers to?

Bring the value back into creativity

This is a biggie. In an industry predicated on its ability to develop creative solutions to business problems, we need to go back to basics and redefine the value of creativity. Facebook likes are meaningless, as are 2 minute Christmas TV ads if they don’t deliver tangible business results.  

Barnaby Davis at Nationwide, says: "Agencies must demonstrate the value that they bring through clear metrics such as market share, customer acquisition and customer retention to name a few".

With the extensive amount of data now available to us, creativity now spans art and science. The solution to a brief isn’t restricted to advertising formats – an agency’s output might be a new ATM design, or a new product. Brands must work together with their agencies to define commercial models that reflect the outputs, rather than hours spent.

Invest in relationships

Stop hiding behind technology, and start spending time with your agencies again. At least one day a week face to face. Ask them to set up project rooms and rather than having status meetings and reviews over the phone, do it in person. This will result in better insights, better work, and better results for your business. And less agency pitches that take you out of the office for days at a time.

Be brave

It’s a dog eat dog world out there. But the bravest brands are those that win the battle. Challenge your agencies to do better, and don’t always stick to what’s safe because it will give you an easier life in the short term. What’s the worst that can happen?

Now enough talk about what we need to do. Let’s all get on with doing it.