The importance of client & agency relationships

SheSays Melbourne kicked off 2016 with an inspiring evening full of insights from both sides of the agency/client relationship.

Sisters Tara Ness and Bianca Melky have both forged successful careers in marketing – Bianca on the client side, Tara in agency. Along the way they’ve learnt that the professional relationship between a client and it’s agencies can be just as powerful and impactful as that of siblings.

Now, the relationship between clients and agencies can be many things, and it’s certainly complex. When it works, it’s fantastic but when things go wrong, it’s awful for everyone involved.

Drawing on their broad range of experience, Tara and Bianca explored what makes a great agency/client relationship, some of the common issues and challenges, and the lessons they’ve learnt throughout their careers on each side of the partnership.

Some of the key outtakes were around what makes an agency a great partner. From Tara’s perspective in agency, it’s about three key things – passion for the client’s product or service, investment in the relationship – investing time, emotions, knowledge which gives the client confidence that you are genuinely out to make their business better, and finally a moment of truth when a client will really need their agency, and that is the agency’s chance to step up and cement the relationship.

And on the flip side, what goes into making a good client? Bianca recognised that the attitude of ‘you work for me’ certainly has prevailed (and can still be seen), but that smart clients have evolved their thinking to understand that an agency should be seen as an extension of their team and treated accordingly. The client needs to align the agency to the business goals, they have to give the agency the opportunity to immerse themselves in the client’s business, and they have to develop the relationship as time goes by.

Bringing it all together, for a true partnership between agency and client, needs to be trust, mutuality and a joint focus on working together for the long term. There is much to be gained from both parties in recognising that agency/client relationships go well beyond a business arrangement, and when they work in the right way, they are incredibly powerful for everyone involved.

With many enthusiastic questions at the end of the presentation, everyone in the room was inspired to go away and build stronger, lasting and mutually successful relationships in 2016.

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SheSays Melbourne is run by Kara JenkinsSteph Webster & Jane Hutton

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