What keeps a client and their B2B marketing agency happy? Like any other relationship, client – agency relationships take effort and compromise on both sides but a little common sense and a few ground rules can make all the difference. Here is just four:
- Agency: The invisible big guns – this is an early way to upset the relationship. The client sees the senior team big hitters during the pitch stage then once the business is won, they disappear from sight, possibly only popping up again in the billing schedule. So agencies, be crystal clear who they will see day to day because people buy people!
- Client: The measures that matter – clarity about what measures are important and what measures the agency will be measured on are essential from the very start, nothing is more disappointing that to be told some previously unmentioned target fell below expectations. Set out exactly what the hard and soft targets are. But be realistic, your B2B marketing agency is only one cog in a complex wheel so responsibility for sales or market share might be asking a little too much.
- Agency: The channel led solution – today no agency can be focused on a single-channel solution; and strangely the biggest offenders are pure play digital agencies – admittedly a dying breed. Fifty years ago, B2B marketing planning was all about what worked for the customer and guess what, it still is. So, if the proposal is all about the channel rather than the customer, it’s probably time to re-think. Hint, if your agency keeps talking about the ‘digital strategy’ rather than ‘the strategy’ get a new agency.
- Both: Transparency and teamwork – probably the best foundation to a successful partnership is transparency and teamwork. Teamwork in as much as the client views the agency as an integral part of the overall team and involves it in the decision-making process that can sometimes be hidden from their sight. And transparency from both sides but particularly the B2B marketing agency; if something isn’t going to plan or is proving more difficult than expected, let the client know and involve the client in the problem solving. In the longer term, though ‘no surprises’ approach will generate trust and ensure the relationship continues