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The Art and Science of Creating Great Client Relationships and Great Work

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The marketing industry is wide. To some it means communications, advertising, social and digital media, events, or public relations. There is internal, external, inbound and experiential marketing – a variety to say the least. Regardless of discipline, there are commonalities around how to strike the balance between tapping into gut instinct, poring over data to create a compelling campaign, and core rules of the road in developing a healthy agency/client relationship that brings out the best in both.

At the end of 2013 we were lucky to hear David Murphy, President USA/WPP’s Team Detroit speak at an intimate thought leader event and left utterly inspired. He shared many things that rang true as founders of our own agency, including the fact that when he founded Barrie D’Rozario Murphy in 2007, he and his partners shaped (over multiple drinks) a unique ethos for their agency that felt similar in spirit to Grow. We had like-minded values and a deep love for the power of making good decisions over a good bottle of wine – we were all ears.

Here are a few of our favorite nuggets of wisdom:

Tear down the walls.

We pride ourselves on being open and transparent with our clients. Starting on the client-side before founding Grow, we built our business in response to what we weren’t finding when looking for agency partners. We wanted to be problem-solvers, strategic allies and a natural extension of the internal teams. Clients are often faulted by agencies with bringing up too many hurdles and barriers and the agencies can become so enamored with their great ideas they become deaf to their client’s very real internal challenges. Because we once had to justify marketing spend within a brand and coordinate campaigns across multiple departments, we understand how much has to happen on the inside to make something great happen out in the world. We too, embrace David’s “all neighbors not clients” mentality.

There is nothing more satisfying than solving a marketing challenge together, shoulder-to-shoulder, with our clients and making them look like rock stars.

Storify data

Another point David discussed that we’ve also considered was how to comfortably align the desire to deliver amazing, thoughtful and cutting-edge creative, alongside the need of clients to be able to justify ideas with data before “green-lighting.” He shared an interesting way to look at the abundance of over-analyzing – through the lens of storytelling. See all of the data as a puzzle is a great opportunity to put your Scooby senses to work and uncover a fresh, creative way to look at the information. Instead of approaching it as a hard-core analysis exercise, see it as a treasure hunt. Then it is not dry data as usual, but data as an opportunity to tell a story, which will help you view learnings with fresh eyes and a different, more creative perspective.

Find your guardian angels

Even when you’re at the very top of your game, never make the mistake of thinking you’re all that. In our youth-obsessed culture (and in marketing this is doubly so), agencies forget to tap into the knowledge of those who have come before. While we all want to believe we’re forging new paths every day, the reality is that very little in our business is truly new. The technology and the medium may change but the core strategies are often the same. Whether it is a creative conundrum, a business challenge or a new client relationship that isn’t taking off as you would like, tapping into the experience of one or more mentors who were once in your shoes can help you see the bigger picture and get to the solve more quickly. We have a few angels in our back pocket who help us navigate around the pitfalls and stay on the path of doing what we love most and it’s made all the difference.

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