What’s the secret sauce that elevates a client-agency partnership – and the work you do together – from good to amazing? Sometimes the problem is a small word with big implications: fit.
Fit in professional relationships isn’t easily defined. But if you’ve worked on either the client-side or agency-side of a partnership for any extended period of time, you intuitively know what someone means when they say “it’s a great fit,” or conversely, “it’s just not a fit.”
Over the past 25 years, we’ve experienced our share of amazing and not-so-amazing client-agency partnerships. Based on those experiences DKY starts with three key ingredients to help us find and develop great fit with our clients.
1) Shared Values
Like the people that lead them, every organization takes on a specific personality that communicates what’s most important to them. The way client and agency organizations behave are rooted in their values.
Some companies prioritize performance, some empowerment, and others benevolence. Each of these examples has merit and can support a successful enterprise. But they also represent how different partnering organizations can be based on their differences in core values.
When client and agency values aren’t shared, incompatibility is the result. Instead of fit you could get frustration. But with core values in common, natural alignment becomes a foundation from which to build consensus, cooperation and purpose.
2) Mutual Care and Respect
Imagine trying to cook up a tasty marketing campaign with the “head chef” – either on the client or agency-side – as a self-serving ego maniac. The Gordon Ramsay approach might be entertaining TV, but it will sabotage your marketing team’s opportunity for great work.
Even when there isn’t overt dysfunction on a team, sometimes the chemistry between people and teams simply isn’t there. The idea of a partnership looks good on paper, but it doesn’t work in reality.
Add relational hang-ups to the mix and your team is much more likely to avoid or botch interactions critical to a successful outcome. But teams that respect and care about each other can better navigate challenges, and are often stronger for the experience.
3) Clear Goals
Have you ever worked on a team where the details of a project were shockingly vague? Too often in today’s business climate we have clear and tight timelines, without clear budgets. Or, broad lists of objectives, without prioritization. Not a recipe for success.
After grinding our way through murky assignments over the years, we have put more emphasis on getting clarity and focus in three areas:
- Primary point of contact – who’s in charge and will make the final decision
- Overarching objectives – what are we tasked with accomplishing
- Successful outcomes – how will we know that we’ve achieved our goal
With these in place the client-agency team’s ability to work toward accomplishing something remarkable together takes a giant step forward. Clarity up front takes time, but the additional preparation will always pay off.
If your team is stuck in a rut, don’t underestimate the power of fit. Take inventory of your partnership in these three areas. And whether you are on the client-side or agency-side, initiate a conversation to get issues out in the open. Semi-annual partnership summits can help you keep connected, and stay on track.
When there’s a great fit in our professional partnerships, another small word finds it’s way into our work life and relationships: fun.
If you’re considering a new agency partnership, contact me here. Maybe DKY is a great fit for your team.