5 Signs of a Positive Client-Agency Relationship

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Having a positive client-agency relationship is vital for success. Here are 5 good signs that show your partnership is on the right track.
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A recent thread on LinkedIn discussed how companies often resist using a marketing agency because of the constant turnover on their account. 

Advertisers are tired of churn. And the issue starts when a client hears a masterful presentation from one team only to be given a different team (typically more junior) for ongoing management.

To add insult to injury, as soon as an ad manager gets to know a client’s account, they leave the agency or are replaced by another ad manager, equating to wasted time, energy and resources for the client. Around and around, the client goes with the agency until they become exasperated and leave.

According to Forbes, the average turnover rate for an agency is 30%. 

Losing ⅓ of your staff each year impacts client accounts. It’s a no-brainer why many clients are skeptical about working with agencies. 

Long-term growth for digital agencies requires changing thinking around the client and account team relationship. Clients don’t stay around after experiencing account team whiplash—an impacted bottom line by wasted time and resources.

But not all agencies have this same turnover issue. Attention to the right signals while choosing an agency can save you from account manager churn. Here’s what brands and clients should look for to ensure a positive, long-standing client-agency relationship.

1. EMPLOYEES STAY BECAUSE THEY ARE HEARD AND VALUED

At Closed Loop, the Great Recession has fortunately not influenced employee turnover. The agency lost only one team member in the last year and a half.

Maintaining strong personal and team morale is in our DNA. We regularly prioritize these culture dynamics as a leadership team, with a framework in place for a quick feedback loop. When concerns are voiced, they are handled right away.

This framework has worked well at Closed Loop. Our average employee tenure is six years, and the average client tenure is 4.3 years. This is almost unheard of for a digital agency and is one of the contributing factors to Closed Loop being voted Best Places to Work by Ad Age for five consecutive years. 

When looking for a new agency, search for agencies that do right by their employees. Having a long employee tenure will ensure stability on your account.

2. Client and Account Team Fit

Approaching client staffing is paramount as the right match leads to solid performance and a long-term client-agency relationship.

During the early sales process, agencies should carefully observe prospective contacts’ personalities and unique needs to match the client to the proper account team. It’s also vital to closely align ad managers’ skills and vertical/industry experience with the client.

As you evaluate new agencies, think about working with the team daily. Will you look forward to talking with them? If not, it’s probably not a great fit. 

3. Account Manager Tenure

Good client and ad manager fit matters. 

Our ad managers work on accounts for an average of 22.4 months. Some of our longest-standing clients have worked with the same team for 3+ years. 

Of course, it is sometimes necessary to switch teams based on client contacts changing or what we learn later to be a better fit. We make those changes in close collaboration with our clients, but the goal is always to set a new client up from the start with an ad manager who will be there with them for the long run. 

Be sure to ask prospective agencies how long ad managers stay with a given account and what would cause an ad manager to be changed. 

4. Established Rapport During the Prospecting Phase

Agencies must introduce the assigned account team before contracts are signed.

Clients are empowered to observe whether agency account managers are the right fit for their business. On the upside, they also get to know the team ahead of the engagement.

Prospective clients need to feel comfortable with their team assignment in knowing they’re aligned regarding the strategic vision for their business. All parties need to be excited to begin the partnership. 

Clients should prioritize asking agencies to meet the people they will be working with. How you feel at the start of an engagement is typically a tell-tale sign of how the relationship will go.

5. Investment in Relationship Building

Employees at a marketing agency should work for clients as a dotted line extension of their marketing teams. Good relationships take time to curate. It involves learning and studying clients’ businesses to understand what success looks like for clients and how to effectively help them achieve their goals. 

Nonetheless, it takes time to get to know clients personally and form a strong bond based on mutual respect and determination to reach the collective goal. Closed Loop has a proven track record of achieving results, but our strong relationships make clients stay. 

Like any strong relationship, communication is essential. Be upfront with prospective agencies about your concerns with account manager turnover. And be open about what qualities you desire in an account manager. 

The TAKEAWAY

Bringing back the soul of business is at the heart of every positive client-agency relationship. 

Good people doing good work go a long way, and performance typically follows suit. That applies to both clients and agencies alike. 

Use this framework above to focus on the things that drive business excellence—longevity, the right partners, alignment and mutual investment. Your bottom line will always love you for it.

 

*Featured image by Eliobed Suarez on Unsplash  

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