November 24, 2003

Keys to a Strong Agency Relationship

Good client/agency relationships are like good marriages (...)
Both take a lot of work, especially after the honeymoon is over.
- Chris Vernon

The Keys to a Strong Agency Relationship
1) Be your agency’s best client.
Not necessarily the agency’s biggest client, its least demanding client, or even its nicest client; "best" means the agency’s most respected, most professional client.
2) Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
This means being a good listener, even to things you don’t want to hear. Encourage questions. Ask some yourself. And don’t expect simple answers.
3) Create an atmosphere of trust.
4) Think of the agency as a true "marketing partner", not as a vendor.
5) Make the agency part of the company’s team.
Make sure they get sales bulletins, internal newsletters and key correspondence. Keep the agency current about your products, distributors, competitors and markets.
6) Long-term commitment is crucial.
7) Be dependable.
Be there when you say you will. Return approved copy and layout when you say you will. When you can’t, let them know why. Don’t leave your voice mail on all the time, and do return your calls.
8) Be knowledgeable about the agency’s resources and the agency’s business. If you don’t know - ASK!
Understand what you can do to benefit the agency, and what you may be doing unintentionally which wastes their time or makes their jobs more difficult and more frustrating.
9) Treat the people who work on your account with respect.
10) Share the credit with your agency. Share the heat.
Make your team look good in front of your management and the agency’s. They’ll work to make you a hero, too!
11) Don’t cry wolf! Set reasonable expectations.
Don’t treat every job as an emergency. Your account team can become cynical amazingly fast. Give them the time they need to do the job right.
12) Create a "nuclear free" zone.
Make sure the agency knows professional disagreement isn’t dangerous. Let the agency suggest what they think you need, not just what they think you want to hear.
13) Keep the agency insulated from office politics.
Nothing can be more damaging to the agency’s credibility than getting them in the middle of office politics.

Source: Blue Horse Inc.

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