The secret of long-lasting client-agency relationships | DMA

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The secret of long-lasting client-agency relationships


Every relationship needs attention to keep it going. If a client doesn’t feel they are getting enough out of the relationship or communication breaks down, it’s only a matter of time before they stray.

So, why it is important to build a long-term relationship with agencies? The simple answer is that your agency is an extension of your marketing team and capability. A marketer’s ability to deliver for their business is therefore intrinsically linked to the quality of the work the agency produce. Quality work is, in turn, linked to the quality of the client-agency relationship and, in my experience, longer-term relationships tend to be higher quality relationships.

Businesses shy away from changing agencies
Luckily, businesses don’t take the decision to change agencies lightly – they have to have good reason because changing agencies is a risky, stressful and labour-intensive process. It puts reputations at risk and often means that aspects of the marketing agenda have to slow down or even stop while you work through selecting, appointing and on-boarding a new agency partner.

There’s also an emotional wrench involved in moving agencies. Agency-client relationships are different to the usual transactional relationships businesses have with their suppliers. The nature of the work often means that you develop close emotional bonds. As such, ending a relationship with one agency and beginning anew with someone else can be very emotionally draining.

What would motivate a business to change their agency?
Often it is driven by necessity because there has been a change in strategy within the business. Sometimes there’s a breakdown of the relationship so calling for a pitch represents a chance to reset the dial on the relationship or, if the situation cannot be improved, to find a new partner that you can work with. Finally, sometimes changing an agency is driven purely by the need to reduce cost within the business.

We recently appointed a new media agency, Vizeum. We used intermediary Oystercatchers to help appoint our new media agency. In total it took about six months to go from kicking off the process to integrating Vizeum into the business. This is really quick in my experience and is thanks to a huge amount of hard work and focus from my team, the agency and Oystercatchers.

We have been working with our creative agency VCCP for around four years now, and our business has benefited from nurturing this relationship. Most obviously, we’ve benefited through the delivery of impactful creative that has helped deliver our campaign objectives. As our relationship has developed, we have also been able to leverage a wider range of services that VCCP have within their partnership. Finally, our close working relationship has allowed us to weather some challenging times in our market. They have been a great support to us and been there when we needed them. That is the true benefit of long-term partnership in my view.

By DMA guest blogger Dominic Grounsell, Personal Marketing Director, RSA Group

Dominic will be talking at Stage Real Life at Marketing Week Live 2014 about taking the transience out of client-agency relationships.

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