Put a ring on it: 4 tips for successful agency-client relationships
Becoming the agency of record for a company can feel a lot like getting married. Courtships can be whirlwind or long drawn-out affairs, and weddings, noisy celebrations or more sober moments. Even if it's love at first sight, it can take a while to appreciate fully each other's merits (and quirks). And, as in marriage, both sides need to roll up their emotional sleeves to keep the relationships working.
"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" is the ominous first line of Anna Karenina. But even in the course of 349,736 words, Tolstoy could not cover all the nasty ins and outs of what ruins chances for happiness. It's much easier and more productive to focus on what makes marriages, and, by analogy, agency-client relationships, successful.
Here are our four rules of thumb for a "long and happy life."
Share lighter moments.
The assumption all along has to be that everybody is working hard and that the stakes are very high on both sides. This kind of intensity, though, is stressful. Being able to laugh together is therapeutic and reenergizing.
Assume fallibility. Expect honesty.
Honest mistakes? Yes. Honest cover up? Impossible! When both parties are willing to own up to failings and work together without finger pointing toward correcting mistakes, they gain opportunities for learning and greater success in future.
For better or worse...but not for granted.
Over time, it's easy to become complacent. The infatuation has morphed into a routine. It's the agency's job to keep the work fresh and exciting. But nothing motivates more than praise when a job is well done.
When the honeymoon is truly over, it's easy to fall prey to the trophy wife syndrome. And, for sure, if the agency's work has lapsed from sizzle to humdrum, it may be time for a review. Before shopping around, though, it's only fair to work together to try and recapture the romance.