This question examines the importance of the relationship between agency and client, and the balance that needs to be maintained in meeting both their needs. It is, however, a somewhat misleading question as it suggests a clear dichotomy between the two business’ aims. In actual fact, client and agency aims should be interlinked; not necessarily mutually exclusive, and move towards the same needs and goals. Without clients, there would be no agencies, and our findings show that the most successful agencies understand the balanced, collaborative nature of this relationship.
The most productive and respected agencies act as business partners to their clients. As such, their needs and goals should naturally converge: 80% of those questioned in one agency agreed that usually the client’s needs and agency’s needs are aligned. Their relationship is a symbiotic one; the agency adapts according to the client. In the long-term, agency and client objectives should, and are, often aligned to maintain a good, mutually beneficial partnership. In order to gain this ideal balance, communication should be an open and honest dialogue. Indeed, more transparency and openness is required in order to be able to objectively prioritise needs. Furthermore, agencies that invest in their people and the culture help provide clients with the best possible services. By creating a highly-skilled and client-focused workforce, an agency can continually add value to their clients and ensure their needs are fulfilled.
In reality, however, this can be somewhat thwarted by the pressure on agencies to gain new business and create revenue for themselves. Thus, a suggestion to make sure that this symbiotic relationship is met in reality is to realign certain business models to best serve these needs. Historically, agency and industry have obsessed about new business with success defined by the new business won. What about retention strategy? Payment by results, rather than commission? What if Campaign celebrated maintained clients with the same furore as New Business wins? We think this would allow agencies to focus more efforts on their current clients, allowing them to service their clients more effectively, while also being celebrated for their retention of valuable clients. Indeed, Henry Daglish, Deputy Managing Director, Arena Media claims that ‘the strength of the agency brand is only as good as the clients we have’ and this should be celebrated and maintained.
One way to navigate through this is to put the brand at the heart of everything an agency does. If you put the brand first, and work for the ethos of the brand, then you will meet both the agency and client needs. Furthering this, we believe that the consumer should also be at the heart of what we do. If the agencies and clients create brands that connect, engage and serve the public, then both will succeed in a profitable and mutually beneficial relationship.