Article

Keeping it Sweet! Tips on client agency relationship management

25 Apr 2019

Posted by Domi Pettifar

Don't be afraid to talk about money!

Finding and nurturing new relationships is always hard work and we all know that the best way to stay productive and profitable is to get existing Agency/Client relationships right before they go south.

As with any partnership, communication is key – and we’re not talking about having difficult conversations when neither party say what they really mean or steam coming off the keyboard as you bite your tongue whilst composing an email.

There are probably 5 key areas to watch/give special consideration to – ensuring that the relationship doesn’t go irreversibly Pete Tong:

MONEY

Talk about it – it’s fundamentally important. You do what you do and need to get paid for it. Both sides have to understand the value of the work being commissioned and feel that fees are fair. If brief creep comes in address not only the impact on timings and resource, but the cost of that too.

Avoiding the money conversation is not an option – and the sooner you have it the better.

CLEARING THE AIR

If there’s a problem or issue, then it needs to be sorted. Rarely do they miraculously disappear, and everyone gets off scott free. Encourage your team to address issues as, or even before they come up. Give them help to understand the kind of issues that Clients can face and why ‘unreasonable’ may not come in to it.

If absolutely necessary, take the problem away from team members and address it yourself – but keep them involved along the way and make sure there are learnings. And remember, once it’s sorted, chuck it in the ****it bucket, and move on.

EXPECTATIONS

Or ‘you didn’t do what you said you would do and you didn’t do it on time’.. I hate the expression ‘managing expectations’ and sometimes with some people it is simply impossible because what they want wasn’t made clear in the beginning. However, you can put as much in writing (without seeming overly dogmatic) as possible, update timings and costs as soon as needed and make sure recipients have read and agreed these. If you use the simple words ‘what are you expecting from this brief, request, communication of information…. ‘in the beginning, it will be a good start.

UNDERSTANDING

How many of us really understand the role of our Clients? Their remit, responsibilities, challenges, career development hopes, stakeholder management etc. I’m not saying you have to live their life, but a little more understanding could go a long way. As a young suit I did a job swap for a week with a junior client and it really was incredibly useful. I’d have liked to do this more over the years and as I progressed to Director level, but too many other things got in the way. I wish I hadn’t let them. Think about the possibilities and the opportunities – a lot can be gained from simply having a deeper and broader understanding.

THE F WORD

FUN. It’s actually pretty important. At the end of the day we all want to produce great work, get significant results, reap our just rewards and develop our careers…. Well most people do. But what we also want is to enjoy work and the people we work with, and that’s the same for everyone.

Domi Pettifar
Posted by Domi Pettifar

I have worked in marketing for +25 years at a senior level on both B2B and B2C business at some of the world’s most recognised agencies. I co-founding dnx, the UK’s largest pure play b2b agency which we sold to WPP to form Ogilvy Business in 2014. I am a Founding Partner of The Magnus Club, a performance consultancy for clients and agencies and hold a number of non-exec directorships advising companies on growth and profitability.

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