How to Become a Kick-Ass Client

August 1, 2016

By Bruno Gralpois, ANA Faculty

Becoming a great client for agencies is not easy, but it is necessary. It’s no coincidence that successful brands are known to be great clients. 

This is an increasingly demanding environment, and no client can afford to miss out on the opportunity to turn roster agencies into highly effective growth engines. After reviewing and compiling the results of many agency evaluations, I’ve learned a thing or two about what agencies look for in their clients.

So what makes a kick-ass client? Here’s a start:

  • GIVE ENOUGH TIME AND RESOURCES: Great clients understand that agencies cannot always be in fire-drill mode. They give enough time and resources for the agency to deliver against their objectives. 
  • BE RESPECTFUL AND COLLABORATIVE: Great clients are straightforward yet respectful. They value their agency’s opinion. They act fairly and foster a spirit of teamwork to encourage cross-agency collaboration. 
  • PROVIDE CLEAR DIRECTION: Great clients give clear and consistent direction to the agency on business challenges. They invest time upfront to prepare and use the agency resources wisely. 
  • TAKE RISKS: Great clients are open minded. They take calculated risks, challenge the status quo, and encourage their agencies to do so. They reward innovative ideas and critical thinking.
  • DEMAND MORE: Great clients set realistic but high expectations. They define success clearly and ensure everyone is focused on driving business results. More importantly, they lead by example. 
  • PROVIDE CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK: Great clients are fair and realistic. They provide constructive, clear, consolidated, and timely feedback. 
  • COMMUNICATE PROACTIVELY: Great clients communicate often and make themselves accessible to their agency partners. They make sure data and relevant information is freely shared.
  • INSPIRE OTHERS: Great clients motivate others by inspiring them and making them feel valued and appreciated. They know how to best leverage the talent of their agency.
  • CHAMPION IDEAS AND BE ACCOUNTABLE: Great clients stand behind the work, no matter the outcome. They feel mutually accountable for the work. They champion big ideas and help bring them to life. 
  • TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY: Great clients understand their role in making the relationship successful. They are willing to look under the hood and address negative behaviors.
  • BE APPRECIATIVE AND SUPPORTIVE: Great clients acknowledge great work and celebrate talent, which in turn contributes to talent retention and ultimately better work. They believe that a successful agency translates into better talent and service.

Vincent van Gogh used to say: “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” The same can be said of great clients. Follow these best practices, be the client every agency wants, and watch the work thrive.


Bruno is the author of best-seller Agency Mania, the former chair of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Client/Agency Committee and a faculty member of the ANA School of Marketing. Bruno is the co-founder and principal of Agency Mania Solutions, a premier agency relationship management solution provider that tailors professional services, tools and technology to help companies fully leverage their agency relationships.

comments (1)

Meagan Dameral

August 3, 2016 12:17pm ET

Great tips as always, Bruno. Thanks for the concise and specific list.

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