How to be a good client

“Clients get the advertising they deserve” David Ogilvy

When I was given this subject to write about it was quite daunting and my immediate thought was not to offend any clients past or present! However experience over a number of years and working with a myriad of personalities, I was able to focus down on what it takes to ‘get the best out of your agency’ – a title I would have preferred for this blog.

I started at grass roots on personal experience of our high client retention and realised that the key to a successful business partnership is mutual respect and a solid relationship between client and agency.

A relationship built on trust and a passion for the end result are the key factors in producing great work. This should begin with a solid brief and the agency being given the chance to get under the skin of a client’s business and understand their objectives.

No agency wants to produce mediocre work that falls short of delivering results, so they must be given the opportunity to be brave and clients must trust them to explore and develop ideas. This will require ongoing collaboration and transparency (and time).

When David Ogilvy was at the height of his career – agencies had time to think, to brainstorm, to research. Now everything is time sensitive, emails, electronic files, media deadlines (sometimes set before a concept has been agreed). So if you can give an agency time to really get under the skin of a brief, then the end result should exceed your expectations.

Relationship management company Aprais identified four key drivers of client excellence, briefing, approval, timing and behaviour.

Briefing: Are the briefs clear, written and agreed with all stakeholders, and do they contain an objective and all relevant information (budget, timings and brand guidelines)?

Approval: Does yes mean yes? Are the internal client stages adhered to, or does work get lost in a continuous loop of minor tweaks and amendments?

Timings: Are they agreed up-front and maintained and adhered to, or does three weeks become “can we see where you’ve got to” after just one?

Behaviour: Is the agency treated with respect as a professional business partner? Can it challenge and push back without fear of reprisal?

So a clear brief, trust and collaboration are all key elements in the client/agency partnership. Keep an open mind, don’t try and lead an agency down a specific route at time of brief, let them brainstorm and deliver ideas. Trust them to understand what you are trying to achieve and work as a team to produce a great campaign that you can both be proud of.

Christine Jones
Associate Director – RLH Ltd

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