Trend / 3 September 2017

Why be a “Vendor” when you can be a “Partner”?

Research reveals critical factors for lasting client/agency relationship

MaLogic has recently conducted 50 interviews with senior clients of leading corporations from five industries (retail, banking, luxury, cosmetics & skincare, automobile) and distilled 10 points of what clients are expecting of their agency partners in this increasingly challenging environment.


1. Capable and willing

Needless to say that clients would prefer to team up with an agency that is capable and is able to come up with interesting and effective business ideas. Yet just like what companies are looking for when they are hiring talents – “capabilities” is not the only point on the score sheet. Having the right attitude and genuine commitment is equally if not more important as a selection criterion.


2. Interested in client’s budget and business

It is understandable that agency also has to achieve a reasonable ROI in terms of their time spent and it is only fair that agency should be properly rewarded for their contribution. Interestingly the clients would be much more open in terms of remuneration if their agency partner is able to display sufficient and genuine interest about their business.


3. Reliable and available

The number one attribute to be qualified as a good agency partner is “reliability”. Being reliable is about getting things done well and on time. However, being “reliable” is different from being “available”. Arguably, being available is the first step of being reliable. This is particularly true when the client is facing a crisis or anything unexpected.


4. Understand the market and the product

Agency by default is a generalist, not a specialist. It tends to work on a variety of projects that are of different nature rather than just focusing on one single industry (with the exception of a few). While the client, on the other hand, is an expert in their own field. Clients are expecting their agency to attain a sufficient level of comprehension of the market dynamics so that a meaningful business conversation can then be conducted. What’s next will be an in-depth understanding and appreciation of the client’s product and service so that it is in a position to offer advice that is making good business sense.


5. Love and use the client’s product

If the agency is committed to being a true partner of the client, then not only it should develop an interest in the client’s product but actually use it. There is nothing more embarrassing to walk into a client’s meeting wearing a competitor’s product.


6. Responsive and proactive

Understanding the client’s needs (the brief) and be able to deliver a viable solution promptly is almost expected. Being able to do this is becoming a prerequisite. To exceed a client’s expectation, the agency should propose ideas or share a market observation out of their own initiative.


7. It’s about business and more

Being professional doesn’t mean an agency cannot and should not build a personal relationship with the client. If every encounter is just about business and fee negotiation, then there will never be a good rapport between the agency and the client as partnerships can only be established on relationships, not transactions . It is as simple as that.


8. Focus on the work that works

There is only one way to judge a piece of work (be it a research study, a tactical promotion or an image-building campaign) – that is, to what extent it is able to accomplish the business objective. This is how the client’s performance will be measured and therefore how the agency’s performance will also be evaluated as well.


9. Great at ideas and great at details

Agency is made up of its people. Some people are good at generating big ideas while others are good at managing the details. They both are critical to the success of any campaign and therefore they both are required by the client. More than often agencies are paying more attention and energy to come up with the big idea but without realizing the negative impact of the lack of attention to details.


10. Think of solution, not execution

“Creativity” in the business context is about finding the right solution rather than the execution. In many occasions, the debate between the client and the agency is on the execution instead of the solution. If both the client and the agency are able to focus on searching for the best solution, then naturally they will be aligned as they share the same mission as well as accountability.


Royce Yuen


by Royce Yuen

More about:

#agencyrelationship #partners #vendor


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