InsightsPOSTED November 17, 2015

5 causes of client-agency friction

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This post shares highlights from a New Leadership Skills for Client Service Professionals training session, facilitated by Tim Williams, founder of Ignition Consulting Group. 

As we learned in Merissa’s initial blog post, the client-agency relationship is changing substantially and it’s important for agencies to demonstrate that we’re more than service agencies. We’re knowledge workers and we provide great value and insight for our clients.

But how do we ensure our clients understand our role with the changing media landscape? Williams told us to address the top five causes of friction in a client-agency relationship:

1. Lack of an agreed-upon set of analytics and metrics that define success and failure. Before jumping into a project, Williams reminds us to lead our client and our team to focus on outcomes, not just inputs.

  • What does success look like for the client and their superiors?
  • What do they want to accomplish?
  • How do we measure success against their expected results?
  • Be prepared to measure and meet their expectations.

2. Limited knowledge and comprehension of the client’s business. Clients want to hire agencies with expertise in their industries and have the knowledge of their business. “Clients don’t just hire you for what you do. They hire you for what you know,” reminds Williams. Immerse yourself in their business and the industry to provide value and insight for them.

3. Lack of value-added strategic thinking. Going beyond what your client expects of you is expected. Williams explains that most agencies are great at being responsive to their clients’ requests, but most agencies are not proactive. Attend a great leadership session? Share your awesome blog post with them. 😉

4. Pricing and budgeting issues. Williams believes “a significant mindset shifts needs to happen, in which agency staff develop new working patterns and place a stronger emphasis on leveraging ideas and strategies, versus inputs and execution.”

5. Integration of marketing plans and services. Most clients are managing PR and social campaigns, while also managing their advertising, direct marketing, SEO, sales offers and many more activations. Agencies have to lead with true collaboration and be willing to work with partners to offer true integrated campaigns for clients.

By addressing these five causes of friction Williams believes you can earn your client’s respect and strengthen your agency’s role as knowledge workers.  I learned so much from this session and it really empowered me to think more about value and leadership for my clients.

If you’re yearning for an outcome-driven discussion for your public relations program, get in touch with us!

Katie Boland is a senior consultant at ruckus digital and APEX Public Relations. More goats!

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