When business owners think about growth, they often think about seeking new agency partners. It’s a natural progression: you’ve reached the limits of what you can do on your own and you need help to take things to the next level. But finding the “perfect” agency partner is easier said than done. How do you know who to trust? What should you look for in an agency? And how can you maintain positive, productive relationships with them? In this blog post, we’ll explore those questions and more.
Now, coming to our main topic.
What to look for when choosing an agency partner?
The first step is to identify what you need help with. This will give you a better idea of the type of agency you should be looking for. Do you need help with your marketing? Your sales? Your operations? Once you’ve identified the area you need help with, you can start to look for agencies that specialize in that area.
It’s also important to look for an agency that shares your values. You want to partner with an agency that will be a good cultural fit for your company. Do you want an agency that is big and established, or small and nimble? Do you want an agency that is local, or global? These are all important factors to consider.
Finally, you want to make sure that the agency you choose is transparent and has a good track record. You should always ask for references from past clients. And when you’re speaking with those references, be sure to ask about the results the agency was able to achieve, as well as their experience working with the agency.
This brings us to our second point.
What are the different types of client-agency relationships?
When it comes to client-agency relationships, your contracts play a crucial role in determining the fate of your relationship. There are two main types of client-agency relationships:
The first is the project-based relationship and the second is the retainer-based relationship. Let’s look at how each of these affects your relationship.
With a retainer contract, you are essentially paying the agency to be “on-call” for you. This means that they will always have the capacity to take on your work, and you will always have first priority. Retainer contracts also tend to be more expensive than project-based contracts.
These contracts lock you in for a certain period of time, usually six or twelve months. And during that time, you will have to pay the agency regardless of whether you use their services or not.
The main advantage of a retainer contract is that it gives you peace of mind. You know that your agency is always available to help you, and you don’t have to worry about them being too busy to take on your work.
The downside is that you might end up paying for services you don’t use. And if the agency isn’t performing up to your expectations, you might have a hard time getting out of the contract.
With a project-based contract, you are only paying for the specific services that you need. This means that you don’t have to worry about overpaying, and you can end the contract at any time.
Project-based contracts also give you more flexibility. If you need help with one project, but not another, you can easily add and remove services as needed.
The downside of project-based contracts is that you might have to wait for the agency to finish their current projects before they can start on yours. This can be frustrating if you need help urgently.
It’s also important to remember that with a project-based contract, you are not the agency’s only client. They might have other clients who are a higher priority than you.
So, after hearing both sides, one main question that pops up in our mind is:
Which one’s good then?
A project-based or a retainer-based contract?
It really depends on your needs. If you need help with a one-time project, then a project-based contract is probably the way to go. But if you need ongoing help, then a retainer contract might be a better option.
The most important thing is to choose an agency that you trust and that you feel confident will be able to meet your needs.
When we asked this question to our latest guest on The B2B POD, Jason Gladu, he answered:
“I think that the retainer agreements, lock clients into relationships with agencies and it’s sort of an asymmetrical balance where agencies tend to get a lot of the value of future revenue and the clients don’t really get a whole lot of value out of that retainer agreement because they’re more or less locked in with an agency. And often can’t seek outside support for projects, whether that’s bringing on another agency or bringing on specialists to help with the work.
And if you work on a project-based agreement, then you are well aware of the scope of work. So, you just have to show up and resell yourself every day. In this type of deal, you make sure you’re bringing your A-plus game. In the end, your goal is to make the client’s life easier and to drive business outcomes.”
How to maintain a positive, productive relationship with your agencies
Now that you know the different types of client-agency relationships, it’s important to understand how to maintain a positive and productive relationship with your agencies. Here is some advice we can give you:
- Be clear about your expectations from the start. This will help avoid misunderstandings down the road.
- Communicate regularly. Don’t wait until there’s a problem to talk to your agency.
- Be open to feedback. Remember, your agencies are experts in their field. They might have suggestions on how to improve your campaigns or ideas on new initiatives that you haven’t considered.
- Be flexible. Things change, and you might need to adjust your plans accordingly.
- Give clear and concise briefs. The more information you can give your agencies, the better they will be able to meet your needs.
- Trust your agencies. They are professionals who want to do a good job for you.
When we asked Jason Gladu to share his opinion on maintaining a healthy relationship with clients, he said:
“I think a healthy relationship is one that is a highly aligned one, where it’s a true partnership where neither side feels like they’re getting taken advantage of and both sides understand.”
Tips on how to connect with your clients
Connecting with your client is important, whether you’re working on a project-based contract or a retainer-based contract. Here are some tips on how to connect with your clients:
Decode their mode of communication
Before you can connect with your client, you need to understand how they communicate. Do they like to talk on the phone? Or do they prefer to communicate via email? Once you know their preferred mode of communication, you can adjust your own communication style to match theirs.
This is what Jason Gladu does:
“When it comes to communication, we’ve got clients that want to be on our slack. Great. Happy to do it right. If that’s how you want to communicate with us. We are more than happy to do that. If you’d rather stick to email or daily huddles or whatever it is, we’re happy to oblige because, at the end of the day, it’s all focused on being a true partner and making the client’s life easier.”
Understanding their needs
It’s important to understand your client’s needs, whether they are personal or professional. This way, you can tailor your communication and interactions to meet their needs. Your goal is to work in such a way that you become an extension of the client’s team.
For example, if you know that your client is going through a personal crisis, you might need to be more understanding and patient. On the other hand, if you know that your client is under pressure at work, you might need to be more flexible with deadlines. This shows that you care about your clients and understand their needs,
Jason Gladu says:
“Understanding how your clients operate is very crucial in building a good relationship with them. A very simple example here is that you give your weekly reports on Thursday. There’s no sense in giving reporting to a client on Thursday if they have their weekly marketing meetings on Wednesday. None of that is helpful. So, being mindful of their schedule and tailoring your deliverables accordingly will make their life easier.”
Creating a perfect alignment
Once you’ve decided on their mode of communication and understood their needs, you can start to create a perfect alignment between your team and the client. This is when the real work starts because you need to find ways to integrate yourself into the client’s team.
One way to do this is to use technology to your advantage. For example, you can use project management tools to stay up-to-date on the client’s progress and tasks. Or you can use communication tools to make it easy for the client to get in touch with you.
Here’s how Jason Gladu does it:
“We want to make sure that whatever we’re giving the client, it’s on their letterhead and in the same font and color they use. That way they can take it and use it internally very seamlessly. There’s no sense in giving a client something that they have to screenshot or reproduce or duplicate and put into their format when we can do that work for them. Because ultimately the data we’re providing and reports we’re providing are meant to be consumed and distributed at our client level and if the client so chooses and wants, then we should do that on their paperwork and on their letterhead.”
In the end, it all comes down to building a strong relationship with your client. If you can decode their mode of communication, understand their needs, and create a perfect alignment between your team and the client, you’re well on your way to becoming the perfect agency partner.
Do you have any tips on how to build a strong relationship with your clients? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog post. Share your comments below or reach out to us on Twitter.