Top media practitioners unanimous on trust as basis for effective client-agency relationship

By Abimbola Mohammed

At the heart of every thriving business relationship is the issue of trust. However, in contemporary business environment or modern economy, trust and transparency can be seen to be in short supply.

For an advertising agency, the top priority is to help clients achieve their goals and generate optimum value for the media advertising budget. More often than not, the absence of trust and transparency has eroded the basis of the fundamental relationship. Nevertheless trust in business partnership implies that both parties participating in a relationship will give and get something out of the partnership but trust remains the social glue that holds any business relationships together.

Business partners who trust each other spend less time and energy protecting themselves from being exploited, and both sides achieve better economic outcomes in negotiations.

MARKETING EDGE conducted an opinion poll recently among top practitioners in media and advertising business and their feedback was the same as they all believe there should be mutual trust between an agency and its client.

Commenting on the issue, Femi Adelusi, President of the Media Independent Practitioner Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), said more than any year before, that this year has has witnessed a lot of conversation around the commercial terms of engagement and the value that the agencies are offering to the clients. He stated that trust must form the focal point of any relationship between an agency and its clients to enable free flow of transactions between them.

According to him, clients want agencies that understand them, their business peculiarities as well as the challenges that they face. Mr. Adelusi, in his observation, revealed that the client also faces a tough and challenging marketing situation, rising competition, exchange rate issues, disposable income factors and even operational challenges in terms of importation and having access to forex, including bringing in materials, and thinking about sourcing of raw materials for production and services.

He emphasized that running and maintaining a business in Nigeria has become more challenging following the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. This, he said, puts pressure on business owners.

“Agencies need to offer the right kind of service to the client that will help the client to overcome or to be able to manage his challenges much better. That is where they need to strike a balance between helping to deliver on that and also getting the right remuneration, payment and commercial terms that allow the agencies to stay in business, because at the end of the day, most agencies are small-sized businesses,” he said.

 “Ultimately we must be able to work with the client in order to do the job of growing the brand equity and the brand value so that businesses can be progressive,” Mr. Adelusi added.

On his part, Eki Aduzhey, Executive Secretary, MIPAN, said client/ agency relationship changes from time to time depending on the expectations from both sides, adding that there may be reasons for brands to want a shift if they are not satisfied with the outcome the agency they work with is providing for them.

“The cause of shift in agency and brand relationship is determined by many factors which include dissatisfaction with their work which might not be meeting the set objectives; the need to try another agency for whatever reason and sometimes for pecuniary reasons. Whatever is the reason, the decision rests with the brand. Also agencies can drop a brand because it doesn’t pay anymore to continue to service the brand,” he said.

Meanwhile, Baba Awopetu, Strategy & Marketing consultant Stargmar, cautioned agencies to be careful and mindful of their clients. He said that what clients have tolerated does not mean they are in full agreement with agencies, emphasizing that what strikes clients most is trust and empathy. He encouraged agencies to be obsessed with clients’ problems.

“Agencies should connect emotionally with their clients, understand the ‘why’, discover the ‘why’, understand where there is a real ‘why’ and a superficial ‘why’. These will help in building a strong foundation based on mutual understanding, goodwill and open lines of communication, while helping agencies to remain successful by prioritizing transparency to ensure it exceeds expectations and accomplishes outstanding results for its clients,” he said.

Also commenting, Rotimi Bankole, CEO SBI Media, noted that the competitive advantage its agency has over other agencies is the collaboration spirit and transparency it shows to its clients.

“A lot of companies say they are partners to their clients but at SBI Media, we really try to make sure that we say that and actually back it up with action. We indeed become partners to our clients by helping where traditional agencies wouldn’t normally be seen. Apart from offering the lowest rate tech to simplify and speed up processes and installing the most responsive team on the brief, we do what we can everyday of the year to be the agency you can call at any time to help you move forward. So far, we are pleased to hear that our clients continue to choose us for these reasons,” he said.


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