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Seen and Heard

Culture: The Key Ingredient for any Client – Agency Relationship

Author - Steve Reed Founder and CEO

At last count, there were over 120,000 marketing agencies in the U.S. According to Statista, over 14,000 are advertising agencies, with almost 1,000 including media buying.

That may seem overwhelming for brand marketers tasked with reviewing or hiring a new agency partner to help with marketing goals, be the expert where you are not, and take ownership of the strategy and goals you lay out for them. The time and resources you put into the research, referral conversations, introduction calls, comparisons, pitch meetings, and decision-making are daunting.

I liken it to looking for a life partner. They may look great on paper, checking all the boxes, but is that enough? Do you want the same things, and is there a connection? You need to know your values, mission, and goals and what you need, want, and don’t want.

Of course, in the agency search process, you want to choose a partner with experience, dedication, passion, and expertise. But at the end of the day, it is about the people and culture match between the client and the agency that matters most.

Ask yourself if you are energized and motivated by your agency team. Do you look forward to your regular meetings? Do you expect good news, exciting opportunities, frequent Wins, and enjoyable conversations? Or do you dread the calls, which can be uncomfortable, frustrating, and painful? Working with a compatible agency team should bring joy and excitement, not anxiety and discomfort.

There are numerous benefits to finding an agency partner that is a good culture fit with your organization. Many of the same benefits as hiring an internal employee: retention, loyalty, improved performance, efficiency, and mutual respect. In an ideal relationship, you may also have the same attitudes, values, and behaviors. Discuss your company’s values, processes, communication, and collaboration styles. Share with them your WHY and find out theirs. What are the qualities of a partnership that have worked in the past and those that haven’t? Ask about their work environment, team dynamics, and how they handle challenges to gauge their cultural fit.

When it’s not a fit, it takes more work. It’s time-consuming and more difficult to make progress, and misunderstandings occur because you come from different places. Although skill and expertise may allow for short-term wins, the challenges make the mental and monetary costs higher than necessary. Not considering cultural fit can lead to a lack of alignment, communication breakdowns, and, ultimately, a failed partnership.

Vision Media has an incredible culture created by our remarkable team. In addition to our team’s wealth of knowledge and expertise, we are passionate about our work—you might even say obsessed. We lead with our hearts and minds to manage the art and science of media planning and buying.

Our culture embraces and encourages creativity, flexibility, teamwork, laughter, fairness, hard work, and giving back. Those are our values. We work and play together and celebrate each other and our clients. We are purposeful about the Vision Media culture, and we work at it. Our values, experience, and culture have led to positive relationships and continual growth for our agency and our clients.

Yes, we work with big, nationally recognized brands for which we get the best pricing and provide leading-edge strategies. When push comes to shove, it’s about our people, and we know our relationships with our clients are just as important to us as they should be to you and your team. So, the next time you search for an agency – no matter the category – make sure you don’t just check the boxes. Ask yourself if you could spend time with them and make a real connection.

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