Enhancing the client/agency relationship

This year's B2B Agencies Benchmarking Report reveals that while client-side marketers won’t always love their agency partners, agencies also have their own bugbears about those holding the purse strings. Andrew Dalglish of Circle Research explores

When compiling this year’s B2B Agencies Benchmarking Report, we asked agencies to share their thoughts on agency life.  Every day, thousands of agency folk diligently beaver away for the benefit of clients. Usually everything’s hunky dory, but niggles and gripes can emerge. From an agency perspective, they give five pieces of advice to clients:

  • Brief well. Precisely define the goal, provide relevant background information and be upfront about budget constraints.
  • Share a clear strategic vision to work towards. If an agency understands the long-term goals of your business, they can ensure every piece of work builds towards the bigger picture. They also ask that they’re allowed to work strategically and have a holistic view of the different marketing activities going on across the business.
  • Allow your agency the time it needs to produce good work. Sadly, they aren’t campaign machines that spit out award-winning work at the touch of a button.
  • Do what you can to manage internal stakeholders. Involve those who need to sign off or input into the campaign early on rather than towards the end of the process. This will help avoid what one agency called ‘seagull management’ – a big bird flies in, makes a lot of noise, shits on everything and then flies away.
  • Push the boat out. Agencies are itching to create something remarkable, but to do so they need clients to be less risk-averse and more open to trying new things.

Agencies do recognise though that, as a group, they’re not perfect either. If clients were asked to list their frustrations, agencies expect that they’d be told to build a better understanding of the client’s business – their market, goals and internal challenges.

They expect they’d also be told to be more transparent about where time is being spent and prove the value of their work by objectively measuring its impact. 

Finally, they suspect that they’d be asked to address high levels of staff turnover and not to fill the account team with junior staff. After all, people are an agency’s best assets – choose them carefully.

The B2B Agencies Benchmarking Report is published in January 2017.