Agency and Client Partnerships: What does it really mean?
“We’ll become your trusted partner”
“We act as an extension of your team”
“We share your challenges and successes”
These are all promises that agencies, including Found, make to their clients. They’re an attempt to demonstrate the closeness in relationship and experience that you’ll get working alongside them. But what does all of that mean?
I’ve worked at Found for over 3 years and during this time I have sat within a few of the different teams within the agency. This has given me a unique perspective on what a client-agency partnership means in practice across multiple disciplines and both in delivery teams and client experience. I have since found my calling and now work within the Found Growth Experience team, which has allowed me more time to think about what partnership truly means.
In its simplest form, a partnership is two parties which are engaged together in the same activity. I think the very nature of agency services means by default the agency and the client are in partnership. So what is it that we’re trying to say when we tell clients that we build partnerships?
We’re trying to express that we absorb the values of our clients and combine them in with ours to find the best way of working that makes both businesses comfortable and achieves our respective goals. In effect, not just a partnership but a relationship that is a catalyst for success.
“A catalyst for success” sounds like a marketing spiel, I know. So let me break it down into the 5-steps we use for actually making this happen.
Step 1: Value-Alignment
The key to a strong partnership is matching each other in terms of values.
At Found our values are so fundamental to us that they’re literally written on the wall. They’re something that the team are awarded for each quarter and we continually celebrate the successes of individuals who meet those values in the team. They are:
For us, working alongside a client who meant we compromised those values just simply wouldn’t work.
Step 2: A Shared Mission
At Found, we are all about growth. Success for us is not simply hitting those target CPAs and reaching position 1 on the SERPs, but seeing our client’s businesses thrive and hit their growth targets. From day one, we become invested in the success of our clients’ businesses and want to do all that we can for them.
Throughout our partnerships, we work to understand the business goals of our clients, beyond their marketing objectives, to ensure all of our activity is aligned with the ultimate goal. We want our clients to feel that they are wholly supported by their Found team and that we share their vision. As part of this, we aim to work as an extension of our clients’ teams. This provides us with clear visibility on their deliverables, allowing us to identify where we can provide support, beyond our core activity.
Step 3: Communicating like Pros
Having open channels of communication is key to the success of our relationships. We want to be able to share honest feedback between our teams, to enable smooth ways of working. This way, we can ensure that the work being delivered is of highest value and at the same time, saves us from doing work that is not aligned with what is required.
At Found, we recognise that in every business there are different personalities and believe it is important to get to know each of our clients and their individual ways of working, in order to adapt to suit them. This way we can make our client’s lives as easy as possible – particularly during recent times, adapting to the changes brought on by COVID-19, anything we can do to smooth processes, we want to know about.
Step 4: Flexibility wherever possible
We know that over the course of a year, or even a quarter, a lot can change, from the digital landscape to the client’s team resource. That’s why we strive to be adaptable; recognising that the strategy and tactics we started out with, may need to pivot completely. We not only react to these changes, but help our clients to recognise when they are necessary.
We also want our clients to know that we will always be willing to go above and beyond when it comes to their business. This in turn, allows us to establish trust from our clients – including trusting that they can come to us with any problems that arise and that we will deliver solutions as best we can.
Step 5: People connecting with people
Beyond the core, working relationships we aim to establish, Found are a fun, sociable agency and enjoy nothing more than wrapping up a client QBR with a couple of drinks and non-work related chat. We are proud of the relationships we establish with our clients and find these to be invaluable for both parties.
I am not by any means, claiming to have nailed down this client-agency relationship thing. Relationships are complex in their nature, and differ from person to person. But through my experience working with different clients across a variety of verticals, these 5-steps have been at the core for each of them. A partnership for me is certainly more than just ‘two parties which are engaged in the same activity’ and I think when an agency truly lives and breathes this that’s when the best working relationships are built.