The Agency-Client Relationship. And Non-Relationship.

Cooperation. Support. Teamwork. Take a lesson in all three from a little bird that can lead you to a treasure trove of delicious wild honey. Photo: Chrissie Jamieson,
Cooperation. Support. Teamwork. Take a lesson in all three from a little bird
that can lead you to a treasure trove of delicious wild honey.
Photo: Chrissie Jamieson,

You wouldn’t look twice at a bird called a Honey Guide.

Among other African birds it’s unremarkable.

It has none of the plumage that would make you stop and marvel.

It’s small, non-descript and mousey brown. Not exactly a stunning subject for a National Geographic nature film.

But it’s whip smart.

It can teach us all about cooperation, relationships, interaction, collaboration, support, synergy and teamwork.

Did we miss out on anything on this list? Well, let’s also add ‘communication’ to the mix.

The Honey Guide will flap manically into your view and encourage you to follow as it flies.

So off you go across the African bush, looking up from moment to moment to see if the bird is still there.

Yes, it is there. It continually doubles back to lead you on.

Your ramble across the African savannah could be miles but there’s a reward.

You’re guided to a hive of wild bees and delicious honey.

As you climb into the treetops to harvest honeycombs, you’ll see the Honey Guide hovering patiently close by. Your loyal friend.

The bird is looking for honey, of course. After all, he found you something you didn’t suspect was there.

So, what are you waiting for? Break off a piece of honeycomb and share.

In nature you call this symbiosis. In marketing it’s a coordinated effort.

It’s apt when it comes to a relationship with your advertising agency.

The agencies that excel know where the honey is when it comes to everything from strategy to branding to videos, Websites and mobile.

They have people with exceptional marketing and creative skills.

They know how to think outside the bollocks, as they say in the UK.

They’re adept at avoiding time-expired ideas and formulaic solutions.

They’re experts in developing imaginative and expressive brand stories.

Strong agencies understand how to lower your risk of investing marketing dollars in communications.

They do it with creative work designed to make you the smartest choice in your category.

Agency people are trained to make a difference for you if …

If they’re not relegated to the role of mere ‘vendors’.

So it might be an idea to invite your agency to the table as a true partner.

Give them access to information and develop a wider view when they present surprising new strategies and breakthrough creative work.

The kind of work that defeats predictability and the problem of ideas that arrive dead on a computer screen.

Work closer with your agency and you’ll also gain an advantage over competitors who take the opposite route.

When they keep their agencies at a distance — giving unschooled procurement people power in the supplier choice and calling for unpaid pitches almost annually — agency strategists and creative people can often be undervalued and forced to make decisions on incomplete knowledge.

Of course, this is a great way to produce creative work that comes off as seriously underpowered.

The point is, let your competition suffer with the vendor relationship while you benefit by partnering and collaborating with your agency.

When good results flood in, you might be asked how you know how to get the best out of your agency.

You only need to smile and say, ‘a little bird told me’.

Share with us. What does it take to work closer with your agency for better results? Are there any tips for building that relationship? Thanks for reading. Regards, Steve Ulin


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