Why does the agency-client relationship fail?

In ThinkPod by Bridget Levitz

We’ve heard the stories time and time again from new clients – tales of an agency-client relationship gone bad, leaving behind a mistrust and even general dislike for agencies as the client begins looking for someone new to help them with their marketing efforts.

In the worst cases, this can come from unethical business practices – but more often than not it is caused by a breakdown in communication that most often could have been avoided. As a digital marketing agency, we know firsthand that when the agency-client relationship breakdown, we all lose.

Let’s take a closer look at the communication and relational missteps to avoid in agency-client partnership:

  1. Communication: Clear Expectations and Deadlines are not established upfront

Agencies often feel that the client is too demanding; clients believe the agency takes too long to implement a tactic. When establishing contracts and working agreements with a new agency or new client, you must establish realistic expectations for project completion. And if something comes up to change that project deadline, be transparent and immediate in communicating those changes.

If you find that your client is over communicating, it can mean they don’t necessarily trust the agency and are finding it hard not to exert too much control or check in too frequently. To the client, If the agency is slow to communicate, it can raise concerns that tasks aren’t being completed or that the campaign is performing poorly.

In an April 2016 survey of companies with 500 employees or more, 18 percent of those interviewed stated communication was the largest problem when working with an outside agency – followed closely by 17 percent who named the agency’s lack of understanding of the client company history and strengths as the biggest hurdle. As Marketers, we need to take note of that.

If we aren’t setting and meeting communication expectations, and even more than that – if we are not fully understanding our client’s strongest selling points – than we are not doing our jobs.

  1. A lack of agency accountability

A lack of data-driven reporting on the agency side is beginning to raise concerns among clients who want to be sure their marketing budget is truly generating ROI. Clients are particularly concerned about data on content marketing, SEO and website efforts as well as other marketing tactics deployed on their behalf. One notable statistic revealed that only 23 percent of B2C marketers can successfully track an ROI on content marketing efforts. That number drops to 21 percent when looking at B2B companies.

Clients want information about leads generated, leads converted and sales opportunities created. For agencies who want to make clients happy, discuss which metrics matter most and learn to report on them. As a HubSpot partner, ThinkPod has a host of tracking, metrics and data available for our clients.

  1. Agency ability to meet future needs

According to statistics from the Association of National Advertisers, only 56 percent of clients believe their agencies will have the right talent to meet their needs over the next two years – while on the other side of that, 64 percent of agencies believe they will indeed have the talent to meet client needs.

As an agency, we believe in partnering with our clients – becoming an extension of their team. As part of that team, we do our best to keep our clients up to date on not just their existing campaigns but also on top of emerging trends and bringing those appropriate opportunities to our clients when they make sense within their budget, brand and goals.

As technology and new trends continue to shape the way we market to our clients’ potential customers, it is up to us to keep our clients confident in ThinkPod’s ability to meet their growing and changing marketing needs. Part of that includes keeping our clients updated on internal advancements – from new hires to new technology and new tracking capabilities.

While admittedly, the agency-client relationship can potentially be a rocky one, it doesn’t have to end up that way. With a clear communication plan, a marketing team that evolves with the industry and advanced tracking capabilities, any client-agency relationship can be one that allows both company and agency to succeed.  At TPA, your success is our success. If you have specific questions about how TPA works with clients to meet their strategic marketing or sales goals, contact us today.


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