It sounds so simple, yet collaboration between client and the agency often derails the success of a new project when it is not given the proper care and feeding. No surprise, the responsibility for effective collaboration lies in the laps of both parties.
It all starts at the beginning of a new client engagement.
The onboarding of a new client is a critical first step to paving the way for true collaboration. Both sides must be clear on project goals with alignment on what success looks like. Importantly, roles and responsibilities must also be established and agreed upon—for both sides. And then what are the expectations for communications for the project? Who takes the lead on this and how often are project updates expected? And then once the updates are delivered, how does client feedback happen? Do you have a formal process or is it more ad hoc with the top execs from both sides comparing notes on a weekly basis?
The second key step is the exchange of insights on the Brand. Who is the core target buyer and what is their persona? What customer needs are the most important, and what benefits are the buyers seeking? Have there been any shifts in behavior caused by an innovation or new regulation? This knowledge transfer between client and agency is time well spent as it informs all the work that follows. Expect a rigorous dialogue with lots of questions and conversations.
Then, verify the agreement to the project strategy and plan of deliverables (including metrics and timing). “Who does what when” leads to clarity and reduces the risk of misunderstanding down the road.
All good, right? What else matters?
Again, no surprise here. Relationships between client and agency are a big deal. It takes time to build trust. And that trust is earned based on multiple interactions and consistent follow-up. Client agency relationships operate at multiple touch points across several players. The most senior execs on each side set the tone and can pave the way for an open, honest, and robust set of conversations. And acknowledging and celebrating the personalities and unique contributions of the team members on each side can be valuable. Knowing each other opens the door for more productive relationships, and better project outcomes.
Lastly, pay attention to communication—both formal and informal. The project plan detailed the steps and timing. Yet, this may be the most fundamental aspect of collaboration that works—or not. Keep it inclusive, timely, and specific. And if new news becomes available and choices must be made, document those conversations and actions to avoid surprises. Sometimes a reset for a project, especially if the direction shifts midstream, can bring renewed vigor and energy.
We can tell you from experience that close collaboration makes all the difference. The agency becomes part of the client team. It is not an “assignment” to be completed. Both sides are vested in moving the Brand forward. And both sides care deeply about winning. Not to improve the odds of getting another client project. Because collaboration stimulates ownership, and typically leads to higher quality work. Which always leads to better results.
Importantly, you get the advantage of the talent and expertise of our top players—on every assignment. That is a key difference between us and the larger marketing agencies. Clients tell us that the horsepower, insights, and smarts of the Damen Jackson principals exceeded expectations.
At Damen Jackson, we thrive on helping clients get the biggest bang for their marketing buck while staying keenly focused on being smart and nimble. We are here to be your partner, your conscience, your devil’s advocate—an extension of your team. And we will always bring the conversation back to strategy. Who is your primary target audience? How does this product uniquely meet their needs? How do we maximize the market opportunity?
We were recently named #14 among the top 100 marketing and design agencies by Agency Spotter Top Agencies.
Importantly, we are pragmatic, focused, and energetic. We get assignments done well, and quickly.
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