What Makes a Successful
Client-Agency Relationship?


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You’ve taken the plunge– you’ve started a relationship with a new agency. It may be that you’ve worked with an agency before, or it could be you needed a change. In any case, hopes are high, but you can’t help wondering if the partnership will succeed.

Fortunately, there are some fundamental practices and tips that, if followed consistently by both parties, will lay the groundwork for success for both your business and the agency. While they are pretty simple, it takes discipline to follow through.

Rule #1: Be Honest And Transparent

Agency collaboration requires transparency and honesty
Agency collaboration requires transparency and honesty

Sure, clients expect it, but agencies do, too. Honesty lies at the core of building mutual trust, and transparency allows both sides to operate with as much information as possible, which is vital to approaching opportunities and solving challenges. Honesty and transparency promotes agency client collaboration and sets the team up to achieve their common business goals.

Some businesses and organizations mistakenly believe sharing information with their agency that may be confidential or sensitive is unwarranted, but the more the your agency knows about your business and is considered a partner rather than a vendor, the better their ideas can be and the more efficient their time spent.

Transparency includes sharing expectations with your agency regarding management priorities and expected performance criteria. It means providing as much information you can about your company or organization, its past experiences, and its current and future goals. The agency will likely seek out information on your industry on their own, but any insights you can provide on trends, competitors and market dynamics will be helpful. Clients that provide the most information are often rewarded by their agencies exhibiting a depth of understanding that yields innovative marketing strategy.

Rule #2: Communicate Regularly And Effectively

Open Communication is key to success
Open Communication is key to success

You might think this was covered in Rule #1, but Rule #2 goes beyond the substance of what you communicate to how you do it. Establish regular team status meetings, a process for capturing and distributing notes from conversations and meetings, and other tools to facilitate communication. Assigning clear responsibilities and tasks for everyone involved will help manage the process of keeping team members up to date.

Informal communication on a regular and frequent basis provides your agency colleagues with context and insights that can help them provide more value and respond effectively when unpredictable situations or challenges arise. Giving your agency access to as many people and functions as possible allows them to have a more comprehensive perspective on the interaction between operations, sales and marketing.

Effective communication is a challenge in itself. For some clients, having a meeting about something is considered a way to enable communication, when, in fact, meetings can become a crutch and actually get in the way of communication if not run properly. Make sure meetings are used to gain alignment among necessary players or to collaborate in generating ideas and solutions to an issue at hand.

Rule #3: Approach The Partnership With A Spirit Of Collaboration

Collaboration is key to success
Collaboration is key to success

Rule #3 speaks to not what and how you communicate, but the attitude behind it. True collaboration requires respect for each other and the expertise each partner brings to the equation. Clients and agencies that collaborate well are aware that success depends on the whole team.

Agency client collaboration will build trust and allow partners to bring out the best ideas from each other. It creates an atmosphere of positivity. When companies collaborate consistently with their agencies, they are giving themselves the best chance of finding solutions that lead to progress. From the client side, agency collaboration is expected, but making the effort to return the favor by approaching the relationship with a commitment to client collaboration will lay the groundwork for success.

Rule #4: Allow For Feedback From Both Sides

Collaboration is key to success
Collaboration is key to success

An extension of Rule #2, this rule pertains to specific projects as well as the relationship overall. Client management is constantly in the agency evaluation mode, with is expected in a service relationship. But for relationships to be as successful as they can be, there needs to be some give and take. When setting out clients expectations at the beginning of the engagement, the agency should be given the opportunity to share theirs as well. These will likely include the client following rules number 1-3, but may also involve client turnaround times, number of revisions covered by an estimate of a project, and how client feedback is given.

Allowing and expecting feedback from each partner will create supportive working relationships between agency employees and company staff. Everyone will feel (somewhat) free to create and defend the best idea or ideas in the interest of the brand. Clients win in this situation because agencies are motivated to work harder for a client when they know their points of view matter. Agency productivity and performance may exceed expectations.

Rule#5: Set Clear Goals And Measure Success

always measure success
always measure success

Another element of client and agency collaboration, Rule #5 speaks to the shared process of understanding the goals of each project and creating a plan on how to measure results. The team should determine what data they have and what is involved in securing the data they are missing. With a focus on results, clients and agencies can build in the metrics that indicate progress and ultimately the achievement of goals.

Once the metrics are set up, the agency can begin creating project workflows tied to a calendar. The team can use this as a reference and partners will know what aspect of the workflow should be complete by a certain date. This is a tool that helps keep the agency and client manage their time.

Because no plan is foolproof, if proper measurements are put in place, the client and agency can make adjustments along the way. The course of action can be altered, optimizations can be introduced and the course can be righted.

Rule#6: Commit To The Basics

It’s pretty simple really. Rule #6 assumes the extensive copy under Rules #1-5 required too much reading, so we are providing a bulleted list of how to get the most from your agency:

  • Choose the right people for the job
  • Respect your agency’s expertise and treat them like partners
  • Be clear about what success looks like
  • Make sure you can measure results
  • Use communication and collaboration
  • Show appreciation


Successful client agency relationships require each partner to understand and value the expertise of every team member. Working together with shared interests and collaborating toward achieving a common goal for the brand strengthen the team. Expectations for successes can be reached and surpassed by managing your client agency relationship with intention. A solid team that lives by collaboration can surpass client expectations.

Jo with the MOJO
Jo with the MOJO

If you’d like to work with an agency that offers expertise in many aspects of marketing and can help you meet your business goals, contact J.O. Agency here.

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