Jason Mueller 06/15/2019

Seven Predictors of a Great Agency-Client Partnership

We’re celebrating 7 years of business this October. Seven is big. For us here at Stripes, it’s the year that expanded to out to the West Coast.

Over the past seven years of business, we’ve given some serious thought to what makes a client relationship work. We’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly. And we’ve also had clients who’ve been with us (almost) every step of the way. One even loved us so much that their parent company went ahead and invested in us… More on that another time.

We had our lead team sit down and identify the common characteristics of our most beloved and successful partnerships. Turns out, they had commonalities right out of the gate. As we’ve grown up as an agency, we’ve refined what we look for during the sales process. In honor of 7 years, here are 7 qualities that are predictors a strong engagement:

1. Know what you want. 

A shared understanding of goals is the foundation of any solid engagement. We find that concrete goals are measurable, quantitative ones, not just, “We want people to know about us.”

Even if your brand isn’t at the place where you know what values to associate with your goals, defining success for your brand makes all the difference. Does more people “knowing about” your brand mean an increase in leads to you? Or perhaps it’s an increase in traffic. If you know (and are confident) in what growth looks like for your brand, we’re ready to collaborate with you and make it happen.

2. Know who you are (at least right now).

Know what you’re about: Our most successful engagements come when the client knows their audience, their value proposition, and overall position in the market at the outset of the engagement. As that evolves, we’ll be right there with you.

This is a two-way street. We understand our strengths and try to focus our time and resources on those things. We say no to things that aren’t our specialty, and it’s not because we’re incapable of executing, but because we stay in our lane an execute on what we do best.

This is why engagements that are reliant on our team defining your brand identity aren’t typically our success stories. If our task is to extend an already working message and brand position on social, that’s when we do our best work.

3. Trust us.

We know we have to earn it, but trusting us goes a long way in laying the groundwork for a successful engagement. Turns out, a lot of what goes into a solid engagement is trust. That means allowing us to do our jobs, being open to recommendations and not micromanaging the engagement. Trust allows space for our expertise to shine.

Strength of communication builds trust and can determine the strength of a relationship. We seek honest, consistent and open communication and real collaboration happens when that’s reciprocated. We like to know where you’re at with your goals and how you feel about things, and the best way is for you to tell us. We love it when our partners are straightforward.

4. Take calculated risks.

One of social’s greatest strengths is directly tied to its measurability, efficiency, and adaptability. As a campaign matures, we’re going to learn things that might require us to pivot from the original outline of the engagement. The power of social is directly tied to its measurability, efficiency, and adaptability. We see results quickly, we optimize quickly and, as needed, we change directions quickly. Be ready to react and leverage opportunities that emerge as we learn more. Our best partners get a thrill from the efficiency of the platforms and have a drive to leverage the adaptability of paid social to drive results.

5. Have strong content. 

A strong engagement is dependent on strong content and resources for us to leverage on social. The more time we can spend adapting preexisting content rather than creating it, the better. We like to focus on what we do best, and that’s paid social.

6. Have a test budget. 

Increasingly, we’re seeing the benefit of building “dry powder” into contracts. The benefit of having reserved money to invest in test campaigns, to experiment with goals or new content or at campaigns that are performing exceptionally well is our optimal scenario because it means that we can be committed to learning without compromising the goals set on your other campaigns.

7. Play nicely with others. 

We thought about entitling this point “Don’t be a dick,” but it looked a bit aggressive and that’s not what we’re about. Really, though, we aspire to hire the brightest and kindest marketers we know, and if you are too, well, we should hire us. Or you should come work with us.

This is a checklist that we use for our own internal purposes as we search for new partnerships. It serves as a checklist of mutual responsibilities and aspirations between ourselves and our client.

Are these things that you and your team value? Let’s talk. We love new clients (and friends)!