It recently occurred to me how similar client relationships and my marriage are increasingly becoming. After successfully making it to the end of our first quarter and to my first wedding anniversary it became all the more obvious to me.
For starters, remember that feeling of achievement that you had getting the girl of your dreams after all that hard work upfront. We know all too well, keeping her was a whole different story. Why should clients be any different?
All those promises made will need to be delivered on. If not, those broken promises lead to breakdown of trust. The lack of trust, leads to the feeling of insecurity and Insecurity leads to misunderstanding, which leads to a final communication breakdown.
Client relationships are no different and if your not careful you’ll hear the dreaded question, “Will we have them as a client in 6 months time?” being muttered around the office. It can happen and does happen. Sometimes even to the most experienced agencies.
Listen to them, be honest and show them respect, and if they’re a good match for you, they’ll do the same, resulting in a blossoming companionship. With that mutual respect, you’ve the perfect foundation to build on. Relationships where the agencies are partners rather than just the suppliers are more likely to deliver great creative work that surpasses client expectations.
On the other hand, if the client starts cutting you out of the loop, its the beginning of that downward spiral. When you start having more conversations with procurement than marketing you know trouble is brewing. Now you’ll find yourself asking, “Do they actually care?”
See where I’m going with this?
Now throw into the mix the present climate, where everyone seems to be in everyone else’s business. The worse the economy, the more clients are being asked to deliver out of their budgets. These days the progression in technology means they get far more, faster and for less. It’s only time before they pass these expectation on to us.
You’ll probably of already noticed the headlines pointing out how digital agencies are reinventing themselves to stay in the game. They’re starting to tread on traditional agencies toes and it’s only going to get worse. Clients are now more informed and are looking for a more integrated solution, where they know their brands are in safe hands ensuring no missed opportunities along the way. Do you blame them?
Now I ask myself, why isn’t my wife any different? Why doesn’t she deserve the whole package? My cooking might be good but not enough on its own. How long will it be before someone comes along and treads on my toes? Lets car-park that thought!
So how do we ensure against the worst?
To begin with, the feeling you can’t talk to, question or challenge the client has to go, it only causes resentment on both sides. As a client you’ll feel unappreciated and for an agency you wonder if they even value your creative thinking. This is where the miscommunications start happening, what the client thinks their getting and what the agency think they’re delivering aren’t aligned. If this happens the next ‘must’ won’t even get a look in.
In addition to this, just can keep doing what we do best and consistently deliver inventive creative that will surprise and deliver, ensuring the client looks forward to seeing the next presentation.
If both of these can be achieved simultaneously, that well earned relationship will be allowed to flourish. If not ideas simply become commodities.
Where would that leave us?