Managing Long-Distance Agency Relationships

February 1, 2006

Agency Days
Establish a regular day (i.e. every other Monday) when the agency visits and works with each client group in person. Make sure to plan the agenda in a smart way.

Agency Office Space
Designate an office at the client site where the agency has a "home".

Bonding
Plan bonding activities or periodic offsite or onsite get-togethers as good methods to pull the agency together with the client. These events can be held in conjunction with a shoot or a trade show and may include a dinner the night before or night in between. They provide valuable opportunities for relationship building.

Exchange Program
"Loan" staff to the agency and visa versa. This is a wonderful method that allows both sides to really learn about each other.

Online Meetings
Conduct real-time, online chats with presentation material at your desktop. This helps for remote meetings and following teleconferences.

Parties
Host a festive event such as holiday party or client/agency anniversary party once or twice a year.

Team on Site
Enable some of the agency staff work on site.  The plus is they really live with you. However, there is often resistance from the agency staff because working solely at a client site isolates them from the agency. Younger workers especially worry about their careers and their chances to rotate. One compromise is for agency staffers to be at client half the week and at the agency the other half.

Video and Teleconferences
Although they don't replace in-person collaborations, both sides can accomplish a great deal while including more people.  Global clients often have video and teleconferences by necessity as the costs of international travel are prohibitive.

Visit the Agency
Agencies love clients to visit , especially when creative work is being presented.

Source

Prepared for the ANA Marketing Insights Center (MIC) by Joanne Davis, President, Joanne Davis Consulting and ANA training instructor, Mastering the Agency Relationship, 2006.