Agency/Client Relationships: How to Select a Partner and Create a Successful Relationship
Take yourself back to Psychology 101 — almost any college curriculum has this class. You probably covered Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the ranked order of what humans need to live and ideally thrive. Maslow's model outlines the essential requirements for human survival and fulfillment, starting from physiological needs such as food and water and culminating in the pursuit of self-actualization, characterized by acceptance, morality, and creativity. This model has stood the test of time. We hope as you see the image below you think of yourself reaching the peak at least for brief moments in time.
The same principles can be applied to the client/agency relationship, and we have translated the pyramid accordingly.
Leveraging Maslow's Model for Masterful Agency-Client Dynamics:
Similar to food and water, the basic starting point of an agency-client relationship is expertise. Is the team that the client is hiring capable of doing the job? What level of mastery is needed and available? Does the job align with that level of expertise? Changing a lightbulb requires a different level of expertise than wiring a home. Do you need a basic landing page build or an eCommerce website built with thousands of products? The first priority for any project is to ensure that the cost and level of expertise needed align.
The next step is to ensure that the agency and client have a common understanding of the metrics. If alignment can’t be reached around measurement, or there is a bit of shell game around what is important to make things “look better”, then there is a problem.
This is where things start to get tricky. For Maslow, this level in the pyramid is family and belonging, in our rendition, it is creativity. Can the agency and client share ideas with each other? Occasionally, some ideas may not be practical in the sense of the available budget, or KPIs. However, don't let that stop the ideation from occurring. It's easy to fall into what is comfortable or known, which can stifle a relationship from growth. The client and agency need to create an environment that encourages and fosters creativity.
Now we get into areas that go beyond the tasks at hand and turn into how you work and communicate. Transparency is often missed because each side is trying to sell the best version of the work. It’s almost like putting an Instagram filter on your output to remove the blemishes. If both parties can get to a point of #nofilter then things will be in a much better place when things do hit an inevitable rough patch.
If a brand and agency can work in a space of truly trusting one another then we have reached the peak! This is really hard to do and often takes surviving a rough patch or rebounding to a lower level of the pyramid to achieve, but this is the goal. Fully trusting your agency partner to do what is right is key. Being honest about what is working and what is not, proactively, is a good way to remain at this level. At AirTank, we strive to get to this level by living our core values: We Collaborate, We Innovate & Evolve, We Treat Others With Respect, We Inspire Success.
Building a relationship isn’t easy and takes work and time. We aspire to reach the top of this pyramid with each one of our clients. As you consider working with us, talk to some of our clients and see how we are doing. Will our approach help your business grow? We certainly think so and are excited to climb the pyramid with you.
Our Core Values:
- We Collaborate
- We Innovate & Evolve
- We Treat Others With Respect
- We Inspire Success
Questions? Call or text us at 603.945.7587 or check out our whitepaper here.
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