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Keeping the Sizzle in the Agency/Client Relationship

The advertising industry is often imagined as being encapsulated by a scene from the popular TV show Mad Men. Agencies are thought to be an exclusive club of talented, like-minded individuals who have an innate ability to transform creative to sell products and services for the most notable brands. But is this what clients are really expecting?

With the market experiencing a huge shift in focus as organizations evolve, corporate clients are now looking to agencies to solve not just marketing problems, but business problems. In turn, the agency model must dynamically adapt to maintain relevance. The CMO Council reported in a recent study that only 9% of senior level marketers say ad agencies are managing to evolve and extending capabilities in the “digital ocean.” Furthermore, other surveys have shown that the same senior marketers are not as confident dealing with the complexities of this new marketing economy looking ahead to the next 5 years.

These volatile changes are undoubtedly affecting the traditional relationship between agencies and clients. Now, both are faced with increased expectations of measured effectiveness and delivered results. How do we keep the flame burning amidst the uncertainty? A successful agency/client relationship is one with:

Clarity: The client must set expectations for the desired outcome of a project or campaign. Agencies must also be clear upfront as to what can be expected with a specific marketing solution.

Communications: Consistency in communication is critical to the relationship. Both the client and the agency must engage in the conversation, speaking with each other rather than at each other.

Manners: Advertising is a high stakes game. When money or reputations are on the line, it’s easy to forget manners when dealing with a client or an agency.

As agencies move forward, hand-in-hand with clients, qualities of trust, value, accountability, and responsibility are being elevated over the Don Draper prototype in importance.

The secret to keeping the sizzle in this relationship is simple: Be transparent. Deliver results.

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