It was a Wednesday afternoon, the meeting room was booked for 2pm but I arrived early to make sure everything was perfect. I had thought of all the right things to say to win you over, and how I would win your nearest and dearest stakeholders over too. And as I sat there it dawned on me: it’s less like I’m waiting for a client to arrive, but more like I’m waiting for a date. Suddenly, the parallel between agency-client relationships and the whimsical world of dating became clear. I had to stop and ask myself: are planners unwittingly entangled in a passionate courtship with clients?
And the more I thought of it, it made sense. Planners aren’t fleers, nor are we fighters: we’re lovers with minds sharp as Cupids arrow. In our discipline, fleeing the scene isn’t an option, while fighting indicates someone will have to lose. Instead, we argue our case with knowledge and reason, because we want the best outcome for our clients, and our long-term relationship.
So how do we keep the spark alive? Let’s look at the five love languages and see how they apply to our relationship:
Quality time: when you need me, I’ll be there
Quality time is the love language that signifies dedication and attentiveness. A strong agency-client bond is built upon many shared moments — brainstorming sessions, strategy workshops, and oh those late-night calls. Knowing that true collaboration breeds impactful results, is what separates the fleeting flings from epic love stories.
Words of affirmation: you had me at brief
The secret to a long, happy relationship is clear and transparent communication. Just as affectionate words can ignite the flames of love, effective communication is key to positive negotiation where both parties feel happy with the outcome. Former president Jimmy Carter said, ‘unless both sides win, no agreement can be permanent.’ Strategy is the perfect example where the needs of both brand and audience are met.
Acts of service: I’ll move mountains for you
Actions speak volumes, particularly when it comes to advertising. Clients need a planning partner with true commitment to their brand’s success. A true act of service is making our clients lives easier. By demonstrating clear connections between strategy and execution, we relieve the burden of selling the creative work internally. Remember, love is a verb.
Gifts: borderless strategy, sealed with a bow
The most romantic gifts are the ones that last. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but from us planners, our most precious presents come in the shape of strategy that stand the test of time. Delivering a strong strategic platform with insights that can inform campaigns through decades, is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. Finding a big human insight is like striking gold — it may not shine like a diamond at first, but it’s the thing that will make your client say, ‘I do.‘
Physical touch: getting close to business
The final love language teaches us the importance of getting up close and personal with business. For our latest work for Dulux Heritage paint, I got hands on with the product itself and had close dialogue with professional tradespeople to understand their perspective. This is what unlocked a world of insights I couldn’t have reached without getting up close.
Just as love requires continuous nurturing, so does the client-agency relationship.
If you listen and communicate openly, vow to stay attuned to the changing needs of the partnership — wild horses couldn’t stop this roaring love story.
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