When deadlines are looming and work is needed in the nick of time, having a strong client-agency partnership makes all the difference. Even when moments of haste turn to calm, working seamlessly together makes collaborating much more rewarding.

Team Cracked are huge believers in acting as a true partner for our clients. Great relationships lead to really healthy, honest and open conversations, which we think have a hugely positive impact on the levels of trust, and in turn helps us to create the best possible outputs to a brief.

Here’s what we think clients should expect from their agency partners, and how to get the best out of a collaborative way of working.

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  1. IT’S ALL ABOUT TRUST

Like with most relationships in life, the client-agency bond has to start with trust. This is inevitably built over time, but it’s also something that should be nurtured from day one too. We find it helpful to kick things off by understanding each client’s communication style, how often they expect contact, and their preferred ways of working and processes. Once this is nailed, the foundation is there from which to grow.

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2. A FRESH PAIR OF EYES

Agencies relish the opportunity to add insight and think creatively, and love offering new perspectives to help evolve thoughts and ideas — after all, that’s why you engage them, right? But this doesn’t mean that clients should have to constantly drive this effort to innovate. A great agency will pro-actively work behind the scenes to bring fresh views and answers to challenges,  but the best creative thinking is a collaborative effort that gets everyone inspired to exceed expectations and create fantastic work. For those client-side wondering how to boost this type of relationship, get your agency team involved from the start, even as part of the initial internal discussions.

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3. LET THEM IN TO YOUR BUSINESS

Treat your agency as one of your team (or an extension of!). This means getting them involved in internal kick-off sessions and project updates, giving them an understanding of the stakeholders involved and what’s individually important to each one, and providing some background around each of their roles in the process. This will give your agency a fantastic level of visibility and insight, and no doubt strengthen your client-agency relationship across the business. There are commercial benefits to this too — inevitably it’ll mean a slicker process throughout, which can cut down on the amends process and increase the chances of getting to the outcome and being right first time.

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4. CHALLENGE NORMS TOGETHER

Clients should always feel comfortable in challenging their agencies — not just to produce the most effective work — but to push the boundaries of the creative, the strategy, and the activation of a project. And it’s just as important for agencies to do the same to get the best out of the brief and the relationship. Challenging norms together relies on this all-important partnership aspect. We believe it’s so important that clients and agencies maintain honest communication about what’s realistic and what’s achievably ambitious while remaining open about the brief — no matter the size of the project. And speaking of briefs…

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5. BUILDING THE BRIEF & CHECKING IN

You get out of a project what you put in, starting with a detailed brief. We understand that clients don’t always have the luxury of time, but the writing of a great brief is time well spent and importantly, clients will see the value of this effort in the outputs.. A good brief provides clarity on expectations and outputs and helps to define the key elements of any project or request. We don’t see this as a wholly paper-based exercise, though. A good briefing process starts on paper with the client but involves a follow-up call or meeting with copy or studio involvement, as well as check-ins and progress catchups along the way to ensure everyone is happy and everything’s on track!

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6. FEEDBACK: THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY

Feedback is one of the single most important parts of both the client-agency relationship and the delivery of a brief. However, to some feedback doesn’t come naturally or even feel comfortable. Let’s face it, marketing and design is one of those subjective things. But for us it’s important that agencies come with a set of broad shoulders, and that feedback — whether good, bad or ugly — gets delivered with clarity. This is an important aspect of your relationship that the agency can and should encourage.

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7. SHARING SUCCESS

There’s always a great amount of satisfaction and joy when a project or brief reaches completion, but there’s no doubt that every day is a school day, and that lots will be learned along the way. Whether it’s the first project with a new agency who aren’t used to working with you, or something that’s completely new to everyone involved in the partnership, every single project — however big or small — will have learnings that should be captured and taken forward into the next brief to make the relationship a long-term and sustainable one.

As a food and drink marketing agency, we believe that marketing in itself shouldn’t be a tough nut to crack. We’re always looking to make our client’s lives easier and work collaboratively to produce work that goes above and beyond expectations, and we place as much importance on relationships as we do everything else. If you need a hand with a new project, or if you just want to chat about how Cracked could help, give us a shout! We’d love to talk.

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