Agencies are a bit of an ageing dinosaur. They have yet to see that the real future of agency client relationships is strategy. Agencies have been accused of being fairly superficial in their understanding of their clients true business needs, opting for a simple campaign based, interruption approach to brand awareness.
What is missing in agency-client relationships is true strategy, an in-depth understanding of core businesses problems that can be solved through or lead into an integrated advertising or marketing model.
Get a deeper understanding
Strategists work with clients to identify and understand core business challenges. As these challenges are articulated, a strategy is developed on how to solve them.
Understanding the challenges can create true innovation – leading to new marketing opportunities that would otherwise not be available.
Really solve problems
For example, a recent investigation with one of my own clients identified a logistical challenge with the fulfillment of online orders. Understanding the nature of the challenge and creating a strategy to solve it lead to a new real-time tracking system to help the business be more efficient.
What started as a business challenge now presented as a marketing opportunity. The solution created allowed the client to speak to new customers and to engage existing customers adding value as well as help to differentiate them from their competition.
Build long-term growth, not just campaigns
Beyond problem solving, the digital presence of any client requires continuous content creation. Agencies should be latching onto this as an opportunity to create long-term communication objectives, deliver a continuous message that can engage the audience between campaigns and be the central hub for the creative and production of that content.
Agencies can forecast their billings
There is a real business case for agencies to adopt the strategy-first model. From a purely selfish angle, by investing and developing a long-term strategy, agencies gain an understanding of the various activities that will be required over a 12-24 month period of time.
This knowledge allows agencies to adequately hire the necessary staff to achieve the objectives but also to gives a clear understanding of the up-coming billings that will ultimately be generated by the strategy proposed.
Clients get piece of mind
From a client perspective, having a strategy gives piece of mind; knowing that there is a plan in place to address agreed business challenges. They have a clear set of deliverables with timelines attached to each and a cost associated. This gives clients all of the ammunition they need to properly inform and manage key internal and external stakeholders.
By implementing a strategy-first approach to client management, agencies and clients can come closer together. A small up-front investment in creating a strategy gives both client and agency piece of mind and a plan to move forward. While this plan is flexible and must be open to changes, it gives a clear path to success from both sides of the table.