Of course, no one is intentionally trying to make anyone else’s life difficult, but without a strong, collaborative relationship, projects can fall into this trap and stall, or worse, they can get completed with sub-par quality.
So what is the recipe for a successful and collaborative agency-client relationship and how do you ensure you steer clear of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and mistrust. From our years of experience here at IMM, we can define this recipe with just 3 key ingredients:
1. Trust: We put this first for a reason. Without trust you can’t build a strong foundation for an effective working relationship. For most relationships, trust doesn’t happen immediately. But with regards to the agency-client relationship, it’s imperative that you start off trusting each other or your progress will be slow and arduous.
2. Communication: While there is no silver bullet to the agency-client communication conundrum, the solution begins with agencies and clients engaging in honest and open communication with one another from the beginning and during their day-to-day business dealings. What’s the best way to engage this type of open communication? Ask questions. Find out what are hot-buttons for your client? What motivates them? What challenges are the facing? How can you help them? Clear, honest, and open communication can lead to some of the most effective collaborations and partnerships.
3. Expectations: Defining a clear set of solid expectations is critical to the agency-client success. Not just expectations around a particular project, but also clear expectations about working together. We all know what they say about assuming. So, it’s time to stop making assumptions about how we think the other person works and what they need and start asking them. Ask early in the relationship and ask often. This shouldn’t be a once-and-done exercise. As your partnership evolves and grows over time, continue to redefine this list of expectations. Continuing to ensure everyone is aligned and on the same page will alleviate stress, tension and misunderstanding down the road.
If you follow these three simple pillars, we are almost certain that your agency-client relationship can be beneficial and successful for everyone involved. And you never know, you might just have some fun along the way.