The agency/client relationship: What Dr. Phil might say

As we say goodbye to 2009, we're busy creating proposals, which seems odd - especially in one of the worst economic times since the Great Depression.

As we say goodbye to 2009, we're busy creating proposals, which seems odd – especially in one of the worst economic times since the Great Depression. The burst of sales opportunity isn't because of new emerging companies, it's because companies are unhappy with their current agencies. So why, after the careful selection process, does this happen? It's not so different than a marriage – and begs the question:what might Dr. Phil say?

Sure, relationships start out strong – usually with each party admiring the other's strengths. Then an immediate big project forces fast bonding and the results are amazing. Then the routine sets in. Agencies and clients get busy, and things change:

  • Lagging response. The comfortable (read: we're taking you for granted) attitude sets in. Agencies live off past successes and clients begin to go back to their “regular jobs.” Agencies: Develop and stick to service level agreements with clients! Clients: Remember your agency can't perform without your timely involvement.
  • Team changes. Agencies move people to another account and clients remove key contributors from the process. Agencies: Bait and switch is always distasteful. Clients: Company experts are vital to the success of your program.
  • Outdated communications plans. Product release dates slip, customers are not willing to participate in the program, and momentum wanes. Agencies: Creative brainstorms infuse new energy into accounts. Clients: Quarterly metrics discussions to review challenges are key.

To keep an agency/client relationship on track develop agreements up front, include a plan when things get off track, and keep the communication open.

Susan Thomas, CEO and founder, Trainer Communications

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