Cultivating Successful Client-Agency Relationships

More than ever, relationships power what we do as marketing and communications professionals. Collaboration, after all, is a 21st century skill. So is communication, for that matter.

As I think of some of our most successful, long-term relationships with clients, at the core of that success is a sense of shared purpose that stems from setting clear objectives for our work together. Both parties need to have an understanding of how the agency will add value and what’s needed to enable that. The client’s willingness to try new approaches and, in turn, the agency’s ability to deliver bold thinking and, of course, results are equally critical ingredients.

Recently, I had the opportunity to explore the topic of cultivating successful client-agency relationships with an impressive group of in-house marketing and comms and agency leaders, including two of our clients: Chris Bonacci, Vice President of Marketing for Mass. Bay Brewing, and Karen Pevenstein, Director of Public Relations at Liberty Mutual Insurance. We talked about the need for agencies to flex with clients, to deliver fresh thinking that breaks through, and to help clients and their organizations focus on the bigger bets that will garner the attention they need to drive their businesses.

Client organizations are focused on acquiring and retaining customers – building brand loyalists who will come back again and again and recommend their products and services to others. That’s top of mind for all of us at 360, too. Some of the factors that comprise client satisfaction for us include:

  • Assembling a team of people clients trust and want to work with
  • Delivering creative, strategic thinking that’s steeped in knowledge of the client’s business
  • Our ability to execute and deliver results that make a real impact
  • Responsiveness, day in and day out

Satisfaction – and let’s set the bar a little higher at delight – can be measured in our everyday conversations with clients. It starts by asking ourselves questions before clients ask. Are we on track with what we set out to accomplish? Are there any near-term wins? Are we serving fresh ideas without being asked? And are we communicating in a way that’s clear and compelling?

We’re all at our best – clients and agencies – when we have those “knock it out of the park” moments. To have more of them, we need to focus not only on the pillar moments of a campaign and a relationship, but on the everyday opportunities that can add up to shared success. As we have success together, trust begins to build – and trust is paramount to every successful relationship.


We’d welcome your thoughts on this topic. Email Laura at