Communicating expectations up front is critical to setting the path to success. At a minimum, clients expect that their agencies will be smart about their business, strategic in their approach and decisions, and adherent to timelines. Second, they will likely have expectations around the frequency and method of communication, visibility of staff aligned to their business, and engagement by senior management on their brand.
Agency expectations are a direct result of wanting to achieve and exceed the client’s expectations of the relationship. For instance, agencies expect that clients will share and communicate key information that helps them be smart and strategic about their business. This may often include the request for all previous and current brand materials, research reports, and involvement in key meetings and marketing debriefs. Agencies also need to know how the client likes to be communicated with, how often they expect to receive communication, and at what key touch points the client prefers live meetings vs. e-mail or phone follow up.
Foremost, the agency expects that clients will be open and willing to have direct and honest conversations with them – dialogue centered around brand dynamics, agency work, and agency/client team effectiveness. This ongoing dialogue is paramount to a successful, ongoing relationship that works for both parties. Although honest dialogue about what is NOT working within a relationship can be difficult to have, it’s the only way to identify and resolve issues and maintain a strong partnership.
Client/agency relationships cannot be built on a foundation of assumptions. Following any new business win, these expectations must be discussed in detail and agreed to. And as client/agency relationships continue to grow, evolve, and change, it doesn’t hurt to reset expectations along the way and ensure that the foundation both sides are working on is free of assumptions.