Continued tensions, unnecessary misunderstandings and, consequently, loss of productivity – here are some of the most common nightmares of the relationships between marketing agencies and their clients. How to get out of this vicious circle and transform the comedy of errors into an effective collaboration based on a partnership?
- Clients and agencies are often characterized by different competencies and distinct points of view that cause unnecessary misunderstandings.
- The solution to this problem is to create joint project teams improving communication and making better use of the skills of both parties.
- Current technologies and online teamwork tools improve the effectiveness of remote teamwork.
Sometimes the relationships between agencies and clients unnecessarily resemble a tug of war. On both sides there are people with different points of view who try to persuade the others to their way of thinking. Usually the clients are very concentrated on their company and products, and are unable to see the big picture of their business, to look at it from an outside perspective. Agencies do the contrary – they know a lot about marketing, navigate smoothly through the world of new trends, but often lack a really good understanding of the client’s sector and a thorough knowledge of his products. It might seem that, with a bit of good will, they can reach a consensus and everything will work as well as a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, often the reality doesn’t look so bright and it would be foolish to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist.
On both sides of the barricade we deal with different skills that make it impossible to reach a consensus without the sweat of our brow. There are, of course, positive examples, where the relationships between partners are based on respect and understanding. Unfortunately, most of the times they look more like trench warfare than like a real collaboration. What can we do in order to stop using war metaphors when describing these relationships?
The implementation of tasks is easier when specific people are responsible for taking actions and making decisions. Unfortunately, in the case of company/agency collaboration, the decision-making chain may be very long, sometimes even random. Not only must the agency’s employee wait for the approval at various levels of the structure – first of his agency and then of the client’s company – but sometimes additional people are asked for advice and engaged in the process. Competencies of individual employees become blurred and the decision-making process starts to look like pushing in the queues for meat during the communist era. In many cases, it needlessly – and significantly – delays the transition to the subsequent phases of work.
Build joint teams
Is it possible to somehow move beyond the pattern where the client/agency relationship is treated as an opposition of two unnecessarily fighting powers? A good solution is to build joint teams, with members from both companies who have different skills that complement each other. It will neutralize any gaps in knowledge of the team in the different fields, where one of the companies has an advantage. The team members can support each other from the substantial point of view, but also exchange their knowledge learning from each other. This way the human capital is reinforced on both sides, which is undoubtedly a very positive „side effect” of the project’s implementation.
It also gives a sense of a common goal to the people working on their tasks, and eliminates any unnecessary antagonisms that often have a negative impact on the quality of work and on the relationships. The creation of a joint team underlines the nature of collaboration based on a partnership, without creating unnecessary client/agency, commander/subordinate, competent/incompetent, teacher/student oppositions.
Use the benefits of technology
The modern world makes it much easier to build external project teams – we can use many technologies that facilitate remote communication. People, who work together on a project, don’t have to meet any more every time in order to perform their tasks. In many cases, all the team members can work remotely using the available tools – communicators, management applications or specialized platforms for teamwork in precise areas, like Sociomatik. Soon you will find more information on our blog about specific tools that you can use while implementing joint projects. .
Isolating a special expert team that carries out the project or a permanent task from the staff makes it possible to achieve an appropriate combination of skills, a smooth flow of information, and transforms the collaboration into something more similar to a partnership. It also solves the problem of skill gaps – from both sides we can choose people whose knowledge and skills will complement each other. Since the team members come from the structures of separate organizations, the flow of information will also be facilitated – both between the team and individual companies, and between the both organizations. Moreover, the members of the specialized team will be more integrated around their common goal – the awareness of playing for the same team will certainly improve the morale and work motivation. And it works better than a collaboration consisting in – even unconsciously – tripping each other up.
And what are your ideas to improve the quality of client/agency collaboration? Share them in a comment!
You’re also welcome to subscribe to our newsletter, thanks to which you will regularly receive interesting materials concerning customer service and taking actions in social media. :)