Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A client relationship you can count on

51 - 49

I attended a presentation by R+K's Supreme Leader who flashed these numbers on the screen. He said that this was as good as it ever gets. What 'this' is, is the ownership ratio in the client-agency relationship, where the client is 51 and the agency is 49...and that's at it's best.

He presented this ratio (which he heard at a presentation of agency leaders he attended...and so on, and so on...) as a means of reminding us that we are in the service of our clients. That's the business.

It's always been that way of course, but sometimes the price incurred in changing relationships may have made it seem like the scales might be tipped to the agency. Ever heard someone at an agency say about their client that 'they don't get it'? That's a sure sign that the speaker doesn't understand this ownership ratio.

In a technology-enabled economy, where transactional relationships are formed and re-formed with every exchanged electron, the power relationship--at it's most balanced--remains always, slightly unequal in favor of the client.

For agencies, the client owns the relationship.

For marketers, remembering that the organization's customers and prospects are the client means remembering that customers and prospects call the shots.

In the always-on, always connected era of inexpensive, technology-enabled communications, focussing on the four P's won't change the balance. Remembering the fifth P--People--can help get the ratio closer to 51-49.

Helping clients serve their customers is the challenge to agencies. It's easy to say, but it's the most difficult challenge an agency faces. It's also the relationship we can count on.

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