Building Better Agency-Client Relationships

It’s a tale as old as time – client meets agency, client falls in love with agency, client stays happily married to agency for all time with no squabbles.  If it sounds like a fairy tale, it is.  Clients and agencies don’t always see eye-to-eye, and it can lead to frustrations if both parties don’t work to make their relationship a good one.  To help agency-client relationships stand the test of time, there are a few things we can all do to make current and future partnerships even better.


Set Clear Expectations from the Outset

The most common source of strife in any relationship stems from poor communication. One way to mitigate miscommunications in agency-client relationships is to set expectations from the beginning of the partnership. Agencies should have a contract in place that details the agreed-upon scope of work, and establishes protocol for the addition of new projects beyond that scope. 

Stakeholders from both the agency and client should also outline a communications process at this time.  How frequently should agencies deliver reports?  How should the success of campaigns be measured?  Questions like these should be answered up front so there is no guesswork down the road.


Don’t Over-promise

In an attempt to be all things to all clients (and for fear of losing out on business), ad agencies can sometimes over-promise when it comes to project deliverables and leave employees struggling to meet demands.  As an extension of the point above, it is imperative that agencies set realistic expectations for the timeline and scope of work on a project.  When ad agency employees are rushed to push things out the door, creativity and innovative ideas often get cast aside.  Setting ground rules and clear timelines helps everyone create their best work and get results for clients.


Be a Good Listener

This may seem like a no-brainer, but listening to one another is a key aspect of a successful agency-client relationship.  Clients look to agencies to provide marketing expertise, but agencies must also be open to feedback from clients if something just isn’t working.  While us agency folk would like to think we know a client’s business better than they do, that’s not always the case.  It benefits both parties to be a willing listener and put ego aside.


Treat Each Other as Partners, Not Enemies

Nothing ruins a client relationship faster than treating them as an adversary.  Sure, all agency workers have their share of client horror stories, but on the whole your client doesn’t want to see you fail.  We often don’t get the full behind-the-scenes picture with our client’s business.  In order for client relationships to prosper, you must treat each other as partners and respect the perspectives each party brings to the table.  Clients can do more to this end by improving communication and keeping agencies informed throughout the partnership.



A good agency-client relationship is like a good marriage – it takes some hard work and TLC to make it last, but the end result is worth it.