Ask most agencies to describe the quality of their relationship with a client on day 1 and day 500 and you will likely get two very different answers. Day 1 is likely filled with magic, excitement, big ideas and buzz. “We’re getting started! Everything is going to be great!”
Day 500 is often less great… maybe the relationship has reduced the agency to a simple task-doer, or project ownership has been passed around a few times on both sides, leaving a muddled understanding of what was supposed to be happening, and where to go from here.
The natural progression of an agency-client relationship is often a devolution away from the excitement and fury of Day 1. So how do we avoid this?
The answer can be simple: STRATEGY! Let’s put strategy on a pedestal for a second. Engaging in strategy sessions allows both sides to put on their critical thinking caps and go big. It allows the client to share their most relevant knowledge and insider information, while allowing the agency to do what they do best: provide ideas, answers and solutions to all of the problems that the client is seeking to overcome.
Strategy embodies what is sometimes lost in the longterm relationship. When the relationship devolves from the initial buzz and excitement, there is likely a void in the conversation around strategy. This reduces the agency-client partnership to a one-way conversation, with the client simply directing the agency on what to do next. While execution and deliverables are a critical component to success, coupling strategy and execution creates a more perfect harmony.
In short, the best agency-client relationships maintain frequent, transparent communication, engage in both the highest-level strategy discussions, and don’t lose track of the details and execution. When the relationship feels dull and you long for the feelings around those opening meetings on Day 1, remember strategy, and open up a high-level conversation to reinvigorate everyone involved.