Jeff Boron, vice president of digital marketing at PepsiCo closed the iMedia Agency Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona with some great advice about building stronger relationships between clients and agencies -- and he should know. His keynote speech -- Advice to my former agency self -- took a look back at his years of agency experience prior to becoming a client, and tied together what he thought then, what he thinks now, and provided a great set of ideas everyone can use to improve their business relationships.
In a fun and highly relatable twist, Boron used an array of 50s marriage relationship videos to highlight some of the key tenants of relationships illustrating the importance of relationship basics that should be applied to all of your interpersonal relationships.
He then shared five key tenants of what he envisioned the partner role from both phases of his career. In his agency life, he focused on ensuring he had deep business knowledge, became a trusted partner, maximized share of wallet, carved out a clear role, and protected profitability. Skipping ahead to his client role, he's evolved those five ideas to looking for partners who focus on deep understanding, being a versatile partner, maximizing sharing ideas, having a flexible roll, and ensuring shared expectations.
Built on that foundation, he then helped us take a look at the future and offered these four ideas:
Have tough conversations before they escalate
No one likes to have tough conversations, but stepping up and doing it early on is always better than waiting until later.
Anticipate needs and grow together
Things change over time, so don't expect to stay in the honeymoon phase forever. Just like personal relationships, business relationships need grow and evolve -- and it's not just one way. Agencies need to pay attention to their own needs as well and work together with the client to continually evolve and support each other.
Winners take responsibility. Losers blame others.
Attributing credit to Brit Hume, Boron talked about the importance of stepping up and owning your mistakes. Don't spend time looking for who to blame, instead focus on what you can do to remedy the problem and find new opportunities.
Talk about priorities, not services
Too many agency/client discussions focus on what services the agency can provide instead of listening to the client's priorities and then determining a solution. A partner who admits a project isn't right for them gains a lot more credibility than one who attempts something outside of their skill set and fails.
This keynote provided a perfect finish to a summit focused on "Forging partnerships that matter." Everyone walked away with some great ideas on not only how to improve their agency/client relationships, but also some great advice for all your relationships.