blog, Careers, People

How to Become a Better Client

I often get asked how we at VERB can build better communication with our clients, and while this is important, relationships are a two way stretch. I thought it would be good to share the different ways in which clients can get the best from their agency teams, so that together we achieve more.

Your Retainer

First up, is to pay your agency more money. I know this might sound like a punchy first item to suggest, but it’s true.  Working your agency down to the wire on costs might be a great job for your procurement team to have achieved, but in reality, you’re buying time and skills.  The cheaper you negotiate your contract, the more junior the team at your agency will be.  This can then lead to challenges in terms of delivery, consistency, and expertise. 

Leading on from this, you want to get best from your project so you need to insist on having a director or multiple directors (depending on the size of work) to set the strategy and oversee your deliverables.  They cost a little more to drive your project, but they have the stronger experience within your agency and will ensure that items stay on the tracks.

Team and Skills

It doesn’t matter what the name on the door says, you can choose to go with a big agency group or a smaller independent agency. I have worked on both sides and the quality of the work has no reflection as to what the name above the agency door says, or the size of the business.  What matters is the team that works on the project, how they work together and how well they work with your department.  So before the project starts, spend time with the team and get to know them. You can even request to do a small kick off project to test how things get structured and will be delivered.  Getting the right skills and personalities in place will ensure you have a long-lasting partnership.

A Balanced Relationship 

Build a balanced relationship with your agency team.  Agencies and Clients are like a marriage, you need to build the right foundations in order to have a relationship that is built on mutual respect.  We often talk about Parent | Child relationships.  If one party starts to dominate and starts acting like the parent, then the other is automatically forced to take on the role of the child.  At this point the relationship is unbalanced and has one of two possible outcomes:  1) the agency will change the team to rebalance things 2) the relationship will end. What is a fact is that Parent | Child relationships never work. You need to build a parent-to-parent relationship with your agency. So ask yourself, is this what I have currently?  If so, great, if not, then you need to change the setup.

Realistic deadlines

Be realistic with deadlines. I’ve seen numerous times projects fail and relationships flare due to un-realistic time frames.  It sounds basic, but this can get complex especially when you have multiple agencies working on a project. Each team needs enough time to deliver their work, amend based on feedback and then bring in a wider agency group to deliver the next phase of the project. All this takes time, so ensure you have built in contingency for each agency.

Celebrate success 

Often projects can be hard work, and I can guarantee that your agency will have put in long hours and weekends to deliver your campaign /project so look for successes.  This might be building a case study together and submitting it for an award, or just taking time out to get to know each other better and value the hard hours that have been put in. It can also be fun and I can guarantee your agency will fit the bill.

If you want to know more about how VERB builds long term balanced relationships with our clients, then drop me a line and I can tell you the other side to this story.

So what does reward look like at VERB? 

If the business has achieved their targets for the year, we give everyone a salary review of 3% in June. Why? We wanted to take away the awkwardness and confusion our team were feeling about having the ‘salary’ conversation. This way, everyone knows what to expect and can benefit from our collaborative effort to grow VERB.

Bonuses are also paid out every quarter. We work out our bonuses based on how the company has performed, how your team has performed and how you individually performed. You can receive up to 12% over the year in bonuses and we wanted this to be a sum of not just your individual efforts, but with a wider vision to encourage you to bring the wider team up with you.

Ultimately, our message is; if we grow, you grow. VERB’s growth means more opportunities and real recognition for making it happen. We’re excited about our future and understand that we all have a role to play in building our legacy.