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Your Agency: Inside/Out 

Everything your agency wants you to know but won’t tell you because they don’t want you to fire them. 

A Forbes study* shows that only 41% of all marketing clients have a positive view of their agencies.  Only 38% report they are satisfied with their agencies.  But it doesn’t have to work this way.

Here at Push, we’d like to present a series of articles to help clients better understand and work with their agency. You’re welcome.

Now the eighth in our eight-part installment…

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In our first blog we referenced John Gottman’s, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, citing that the devolution of an agency relationship can sometimes mirror that of any personal relationship. It’s easy for expectations to not be met. Or to feel like needs are not being heard, respected or appreciated.

Bugs Bunny WeddingBut all is not gloom and doom. The beauty of strong agency relationships is that they are mutually beneficial. In this series we’ve attempted to give you insight into the inner workings of an agency so you can better anticipate the headaches and heartaches that inevitably come. Here is a list of the top seven things you can do to make sure your relationship remains healthy and prosperous. It’s the summary of our previous seven articles in this series.

  1. Agencies are golden retrievers. A pat on the head goes a long way. A savvy client knows sincere appreciation is the glue that holds an agency relationship together. Say it, text it, e-mail it, phone it, LinkedIn it, skywrite it, shout it from the rooftops. As the old treatise from  the 60 Second Manager says, “Catch someone doing something right and praise it”.
  2. Make your expectations very clear. When you begin an agency relationship, acquaint them with your work style and how best to communicate with you. Give a lot of feedback in the first weeks so the agency can adjust their project management style to your needs. Don’t assume we work the same way you do. Matter of fact, assume the opposite. The more you tell us, the better we’ll be.
  3. A little humor goes a long way. Most agency-types fell into this business because the the corporate world was too stuffy. We are all pretty loose in our style, even though we can button it up for the board room when needed. We appreciate even the driest attempt at humor. Having a sense of humor with your agency is like trying to speak French when in Paris. Even if you’re not good at it, the French appreciate your willingness to try.
  4. Deadlines drive everything we do. In Blog 7  of the series we stated that fully half of the projects we receive have deadlines that are tight, tight, tight. We live by this mantra,  “If you can just do what you say you’re going to do, you’ll be wildly successful”.  Help us help you. Be crystal clear with your agency. Tell them what you need and by when.
  5. It’s not about the money. Then again, we’re not running a non-profit here. Don’t make budgets a Waterloo. The goal of every agency is to grow so close to the client  a mutual trust around budget planning is fostered.  In Blog 4 of the series we talked about the budget “Who’s on First”. It’s always fair to push back on budgets, but listen to the agency’s point of view. Or, to quote Ronald Regan, “Trust, but verify”.
  6. Client relationships aren’t built over lunch. Good account relationships don’t start out as social outings. The best client relationships are built in the trenches. Delivering successful projects day in and day out. We agency types are definitely relational. But we also know that a relationship with you must be earned.
  7. Have fun. Working with your agency should be the highlight of your day. After all, when do you ever get time and space to think creatively about your work, with people who are there to help facilitate your success? If it’s not fun for you, it’s probably not fun for your agency either.

Thanks for being a part of our Inside/Out series. Please share it with your colleagues if you’ve found it interesting. As an old Hindu proverb states “Only through suffering do we become wise”. If that’s the case, the Principals at Push have all kinds of wisdom to share.

Coming soon:  Agency Personae’s: Profiles in Courage.


Don Low is a principal at Push. When he’s not working, he’s flip-turning laps in a pool, riding his road bike, rooting his kids on or deciding what to make for dinner.

*Forbes Study

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