The key to a true agency/client partnership is immersion. But how does this work for both the client and the agency?
The Spinach perspective
Lee-at Jacobson, Executive Producer, Spinach
“Suiting” is a tricky gig. We’re the middlemen and women representing the agency to the client, but at the same time, we’re also the voice of the client relaying feedback to our teams.
The procedure manuals will tell you that this two-way dance usually begins when a brief comes in from the client. We generally go through a reverse brief process ensuring we’re all on the same page, unpacking the knowns, delving in and pulling apart the objectives. Then we all jump aboard the brief train and away we go.
But this theory misses a critical piece of context and it’s not something that can be worked out by having more meetings or more manuals; it’s something we need to learn by listening and by sitting in the same chair as the client. It’s full and complete immersion.
Our head of client services Penny Flanders touched on this in her recent AdNews article which drew from her experience of the client immersion program she has put in place for one of our long standing clients, The Reject Shop.
The program’s objectives are two-fold: to help The Reject Shop’s newly restructured marketing team understand how we work as an agency; our processes, our people, our values, and ultimately how to get the best out of us. The second objective is to help the agency better understand how the marketing team works and the mechanics of The Reject Shop’s broader business.
Our approach has been a two-week rotation where a member of The Reject Shop marketing team spends two days in our office and we in theirs. The first session is spent with representatives from the various teams to understand the jobs they do, what a typical day in that role looks like and the challenges they face. From there, we take a more in-depth look at how we work together, how our processes integrate and what we both need to succeed. This can even involve attending management meetings.
There is no way that we could understand the context of the decisions that are made or the deeper meaning behind a request without this experience. But more than that, the process has developed a deeper appreciation for the work that we both do, ultimately, for the same cause.
The Reject Shop perspective
Andrew Vittadello, National Advertising Manager, The Reject Shop
Better client agency relationships lead to better commercial creativity so it’s in our best interest to put energy and effort into making them better.
As a football tragic, it’s only fair I use a football analogy leading in to the FIFA World Cup to explain the journey we’re on.
‘Total Football’ is the tactical theory that any player can take over the role of any other player in a team. It was made famous by the Netherlands national football team when reaching the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup.
Total Football’s success depends largely on the adaptability of each player within the team to quickly switch positions depending on the on-field situation.
Our immersion program is very much the same.
All team members across our business as well as Spinach are making the effort to understand how the other works.
With this understanding, team members work together to maintain trust including communicating well and meeting deadlines while always respecting the views, competence and situation of the other.
In the best client/agency relationships, all team members feel an equal sense of responsibility and commitment to what they are producing as we ultimately work together to achieve the Holy Grail of retail outcomes – favourable outcomes for the business, customer and shareholder.
And if we get to use a football analogy into the bargain, I reckon we’re onto a winner.