How to Be a Good Client
The agency/client relationship is a special one. When the relationship is good, magical things happen – innovative work, awards, successful brands, career advancement. After 23 years at healthcare agencies, I’ve seen all kinds of agency/client relationships, and have a few observations for what clients can do to get the most of their agency team, and maybe see some of that magic.
Tell us about you
Everybody works differently. Understanding your style, preferences, and pet peeves is incredibly valuable to your agency team. If you prefer phone over email – tell us. If long email summaries annoy you – tell us. If you suck at time management and want us to harass you day and night – tell us. We promise to listen.
Understand how we work
One of the first things we do for clients is set up an agency orientation meeting so you can “see behind the curtain” and understand our departments and how we operate. Taking the time to get to know us can be highly informative, and allows you to get a closer look at the different areas where we can help your business.
We should be at every meeting to get a 360-degree view of the business and its challenges. Having a seat at the table for important discussions is critical. It allows us to be immersed in your world, and will make the work we do for you more rooted in brand strategy.
Give us the problem
Better work happens when the agency understands the challenge and is sent off to figure out how to attack it. For example, what’s the issue the field is facing? Why is the current approach not working?
When possible, we always like to take a step back and discuss what’s driving the need for a tactic versus just being told to create “fill-in-the-blank” tactic.
Keep your house in order
Having to backtrack and redo something because additional or contradicting direction is received from multiple client team members is costly and inefficient. And nothing makes brand planning more painful than spinning your wheels. Having the right people align from the start can save time, money, and headaches.
Don’t be a copywriter or art director
While rewriting copy or specifying color distribution qualifies as clear feedback, it’s better that the agency understands what you’re trying to achieve – is it too boring, too crowded, too colorful, too dull, and then comes back at you with solutions.
Recognize that excellent work takes time
There are always fire drills, and part of the agency culture is to churn into the wee hours. But it’s not ideal to work in crisis mode all the time. Condensing the timing too much lowers the quality, increases the stress, and can make the end result something we’re all less than proud of.
Communicate. A lot.
An open exchange of viewpoints is essential to ensuring the agency/client relationship stays healthy and productive. When you’re unhappy we need to know so we can fix it. On the flipside, compliments are welcome. Knowing we’re hitting the mark and that you love the work is motivating, rewarding, and makes us want to keep you happy.