COVID-19: Let’s talk brand-agency relationship management

It’s no exaggeration to say that COVID-19 has slammed the world into chaos, and that everyone is trying to navigate through such turbulent and uncertain times. When it comes to the advertising world, the industry reflects on what this pandemic is bringing to the brand-agency relationship dynamics.

While in-housing was very much the big trend before COVID-19, this trend seems to be slowly shifting to the other way post-pandemic, as brands are coming into the realization that they need agencies not only for the flexibility but also for agencies’ 3rd party point of view to react quickly and correctly to constant rapid changes. 

As for agencies, as the world’s economy is taking a big hit from this global pandemic, winning new clients is more difficult than ever. Today, looking for growth opportunities among the existing clients is the way to go. According to Marla Kaplowitz, The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s)’ president and chief executive, “always be pitching…your own clients” and “love the one you’re with” are the two key takeaways in terms of how agencies can survive COVID-19.

The subject of relationship management of existing partnership between brands and agencies was overlooked and under-discussed prior to the global crisis. We believe, however, now it’s a good time to put it under the spotlight, as relationship management between brands and agencies is more important than ever in light of the pandemic. And here are a few reasons why:

Minimized face-to-face communications

While working from home certainly has many perks, one thing it doesn’t help is building trust and connection with the people you are working with. When all the communications must be done online, we need to call for empathy and an extra effort of human touch from all parties. The same rule applies to brand-agency relationship as well. A bit of understanding when someone from your agency is late for a Zoom meeting, or remembering your client’s birthday, can help warm up the minimized face-to-face communications and forge a stronger, and more interpersonal work relationship, even online.

Limited resources on both ends

COVID-19 has tighten the resources for almost all businesses in market. For brands and their partnered agencies, it is crucial to capitalize on existing relationship and identify available resources on both ends in order to put the right efforts and resources in the right place to create maximized impact. A stronger relationship and collaboration will help brands and agencies both pivot more efficiently in challenging times.

Any mistrust can be costly

One thing for sure is that COVID-19 puts businesses and the people behind them on edge. During such difficult times, people are less prone to tolerate mistakes and any mistrust within a partnership can be rather costly. If a brand-agency partnership is not built upon trust, any tiniest errors can set everyone off and start a chain of negative and potentially expensive events. It is always important to have a strong and honest relationship between brands and agencies, and now it is more important than ever.

Therefore, COVID-19 is also providing an opportunity for brands and agencies alike to think on what can be done to renforce their work relationship. 

For agencies, now it is crucial to take the extra mile and come up with additional competitive unique services such as a crisis response strategy. Agencies need to show that they have a share of voice and a share of mind with their clients. For brands, a different compensation structure for their agencies could be an interesting solution to further motivate their partners for continuous good work and services.

Transparency, transparency, transparency…

Transparency has always been a big topic even before COVID-19 when it comes to brand-agency relationship. During such a global crisis, it is never too much to emphasize and re-emphasize its significance. Faced with reduced communication and limited resources, any misunderstanding or hidden operation can lead to mistrust and any mistrust can burn the bridge entirely. 

Transparency is at the core of any brand-agency relationship. Nonetheless, given the huge amount of complex information and execution between the two parties, full transparency can be difficult to achieve as some of the elements might get lost. Thankfully, there are technologies today that can aide in the process. 

Take Grasp as an example. Even though Grasp cannot be the answer to all transparency issues, we are proud to be the market leader addressing transparency concerns in media buying execution, which is a major part of many brand-agency relationships. Grasp minimizes tiring and redundant back-and-forth communications, and gives back the extra time saved to both brands and agencies to work together on more pressing topics. In other words, with Grasp brands and agencies no longer need to seek transparency – Grasp brings the transparency to you, effortlessly. 

Get in touch with Grasp today to renforce your brand-agency relationship. 

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