I’ve been in the marketing and advertising business nearly 20 years, and during that time, have been on both sides of the client / agency fence. In my experience, I’ve found that the strongest, most productive relationships result from teamwork in which both parties are pitching in and constructively working together. There are some really good examples out there on why teaming up to produce the highest-quality product is more effective than handing over full control to an agency. Remember Groupon’s Super Bowl ads? The ad agency didn’t necessarily do anything wrong but without any direction from Groupon, TV advertisements were run that weren’t entirely in line with Groupon’s brand and messaging—ads that ultimately caused a social media frenzy and a fallout between client and agency.
While it’s critical to have a trusted relationship established with your agency and to respect them as the industry “experts,” you shouldn’t see them as a vendor carrying out a service on behalf of your business. A client/agency team requires collaboration for any type of marketing campaign to progress and be successful. Agencies can only drive so much of the marketing and advertising efforts on their own without client input and approvals along the way. In order to fully help clients achieve and exceed their marketing goals and objectives, the agency and client must build a trusted relationship and come together as partners working toward a common goal.
As clients, I really encourage you to collaborate to help your agency help you. If you find that you are unhappy with your agency’s work or campaign performance, consider whether you have done your part to fully participate in the process with your agency. For those clients who currently have close working relationships with your agencies, hopefully you’ve seen proof that the most fruitful combination results from teaming up with each other and engaging as needed.
A great example here is when your agency recommends new SEM landing pages. Many clients do not allow their SEM/PPC/SEO agencies to directly implement changes to their webpages. Instead, they typically have an in-house webmaster handle it, so when a PPC or SEO team recommends changes to a webpage in order to improve performance, like conversions and sales, both parties are at the mercy of the webmaster. If it’s not completed or executed correctly based on the agency’s recommendations, then a client won’t get a chance to see any results or even begin to measure performance improvements.
A strong, productive client/agency relationship starts with both parties creating shared goals, taking ownership, accepting responsibility, and being passionate about the work they produce together.