Tom Denford
By Tom Denford
Sep 15, 2011 11:16:02 AM

The 5 New Rules For The Client / Agency Relationship


It has perhaps never been more important for clients to consider re-evaluating their relationships with their agencies. In a recession, improving the effectiveness of existing investments and generating new value from them is as important as cutting costs. To achieve that efficiency, all marketing service suppliers will need to be making greater commitments to their clients. What does this mean for agencies?

We believe there are FIVE NEW rules for the client / agency relationship:

  1. Agencies will need to become more accountable for the value they create
  2. Agencies will need to work to clearly set “higher goals” that align with a client’s business goals
  3. In exchange the client will need to be able to offer a share in success to the agency
  4. The agency’s “opportunity for profit” must be in areas where most value can be created for the client
  5. There should be no “opportunity for profit” for a agency from areas where there is no opportunity for value to be created for the client

This doesn’t place the onus solely on the agency to hit some higher standard over night, much of it indeed rests on the contractual terms and financial agreement between the two parties. However, having these five rules top of mind when you enter an agency pitch or when you are negotiating the agency’s remuneration will help.

When considering the “opportunity for profit” – you can refer to my previous post which illustrates this by showing how estate agents really shouldn’t work on commission….

btw – I chucked in the Satir change model up there, in a passing acknowledgement that all this stuff isn’t very easy to implement, or at least would appear that way. In truth, transitioning to something new is hard but when it suits both sides is should be easier, in theory. Change is disruptive, transformational change is constructive. You can find out more about the Satir model in a good blog post here.