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The secret to a successful client relationship

The secret to a successful client relationship
A strong relationship between client and agency is one of the most important drivers of business value - but is too often overlooked, writes Richard Robinson, Managing Partner at Oystercatchers.

On my first day at work my first boss told me the secret to a long term, successful client relationship: Talk every day, meet every week and buy them a drink every month.

Twenty years on and this still rates as one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given. The business of creating, cultivating, and constantly reaffirming long term, successful relationships between clients and agencies is a critical skillset, but for reasons not yet fully understood it is also often overlooked – despite being one of the single most important drivers of brand value and agency profitability.

Too often what we find missing most in troubled accounts is a strategic focus on making the existing relationship work to the advantage of both client and agency. And too often we see this paradigm being fuelled by the misconception that long term relationships do little to inspire exciting creative work, or challenging innovation.

The true reality today is that clients who really concentrate on making their relationships work, and agencies who really invest time, man-hours and strategic thought into these relationships, are the ones most able to generate growth, create outstanding communications and do more than simply create something new.

The ones who spend time planning and focusing on the business of the client / agency relationship are those more able to deliver higher value output in terms of increased effectiveness, ROI, creativity and those least likely to find themselves going to pitch.

The strongest relationships we see here at Oystercatchers are the ones where leaders on both sides recognise that their teams and the work they produce are made by and for people. Yes, real people.

With this knowledge comes the ability for both brand and agency leadership to invest the right amount of time in getting to know each other as people before tying the knot; identifying the basis for the mutual trust and respect critical to allow the new relationship to blossom, flourish, endure and prosper.

It also allows the confidence to constructively, consistently and (crucially) qualitatively re-evaluate the strength and depth of the relationship, reaffirm the commitments made and reinforce to all members of both teams why being together is significantly greater than being apart.

My take is that the best relationships start from the top down. And the strongest relationships are built directly, personally and over time between real people.

Join Richard and participants from more than 60 brands and agencies at the Alliances Adaptathon on October 3 - the first in a ground-breaking series of events designed to optimise client agency relationships. 

Last updated 26/09/2013

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