AdvertisingAge recently asked Nancy Hill, president of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, for her thoughts on improving agency-client relationships and how to get innovations to market. Among her suggestions is for everyone involved to be smarter about “the mating (dating) ritual” of selection:

Stop ambulance chasing. An agency leader once said to me, “We have to be careful what we eat,” meaning we should be more selective about accounts we pursue. Desperate agencies will do desperate things. Best-in-class agencies are disciplined and rigorously screen opportunities.

We’re not an ad agency, but we couldn’t agree more. We work hard to ensure that our client partnerships are destined to succeed, and a little due diligence on both sides goes a long way. Over the last 42 years of our existence, we know the attributes of the ideal client partners that result in successful collaborative relationship:

Client point person with internal clout and tenure. Preferably this person possesses a sense of urgency because keeping up with the Nottingham Spirk pace can be hard for traditional product development cultures.

C-level representation who backs the partnership, remains involved and can bring the rest of the C suite and other departments to the table as needed.

12- to 18-month commitment. Innovation is messy but tenacity is the king of success.

Trust. We don’t adhere to the traditional product development processes they teach in business school. Our methods may seem unorthodox; we fail fast and keep moving, actively avoiding “analysis paralysis.” But our 40-year record — hundreds of patents on thousands of products that have generated billions in revenue — speaks for itself.

An eye to the future. “If you are cultivating the relationship in all the right ways (while of course, providing the products or services your client needs), you can work on developing a partnership with the client—something that goes beyond individual project development.” More sage advice, this time from Forbes.com (Tips for Building Long-Term Client Relationships).

To position a brand as innovative, we’re always thinking ahead, and we work best with clients who do too.

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