What makes a great agency? Or, to put it another way, what makes an agency great for a client?

In a world with so many of us out there (agencies, that is), choosing the one that’s right for you must be really, really difficult. If we assume, for argument’s sake, that most agencies are experts in their field, how is an agency supposed to stand out?

As Mark Ritson has said, “Whisper it quietly around Soho but most of these agencies now all offer the same thing.”

So I asked some members of Redtorch for the one thing they felt every client should get from an agency.

Here’s what they had to say …

Who:  Jonny Murch, CEO

Business is about people, and clients want to know who they will spend time with or go into battle with – people who will empathise with their needs and help them achieve success. Someone with whom they have chemistry and can celebrate their success!

Who:   Emma Shadbolt, Senior Social Media Manager
What: A Partnership 

An agency should be seen as the extension of an internal team: involved and invested in all aspects of a project, knowing the product inside out, and being the experts the client can rely on.
An agency should share the highs and lows, spread the workload, and support and lift the client to allow them to achieve their goals, hit the best results and make their job that much easier. It’s a two-way thing.

Who:   Ollie Davis, Head of Research and Insight
What: Answers

Provide answers to questions before the questions have even been asked by giving clients insights that relate to performance, trends and competitors. This demonstrates that the agency is forward-thinking and the client is always front of mind.

Who:   Chris Argyle-Robinson, Strategy Director 
What: Effectiveness

Clients want an agency to be effective in solving their challenges.

Who:   James Fazackerley, Senior Consultant 
What: The Truth 

Agencies shouldn’t be afraid to speak truth to power. Fundamentally, client and agency want the same thing: to achieve their agreed objectives. Therefore, knowledge on how to do this should be communicated confidently and with tact.

Who:   Jess Reus, Project Manager 
What: Clear Communication

Communication between client and agency is, for the most part, virtual. It’s imperative, therefore, that the client receives clear and efficient communications at regular intervals to ensure both parties are on the same page: this will help instil accountability and provide client satisfaction.

Who:   Amy Marshall, Social Media Editor 
What: Proactivity 

An agency should continually assess how they can add extra value and provide creative solutions for clients. They should be forward thinking and identify areas of opportunity before they have been raised by the client.

Who:   Kirby O’Donnell, Social Media Manager
What: Transparency 

Honesty is the best policy. The greatest partnerships offer complete transparency on both sides. Although it can be challenging, open and honest communication from the beginning will prevent misunderstandings further down the line. Keep all channels of communication open and create a relationship built on trust.

Who:   Ginger Wang, Designer
What: Creativity

Clients want an agency to give them different ideas to make them unique and different based on the right understanding of their identity and industry knowledge.

Who:   Jojo Onuwaje, Digital Insight Analyst 
What: Flexibility 

An agency should be flexible enough and ready to support their client through tough situations, e.g. during COVID-19. In partnership with the client, it should be able to adjust to the constantly changing landscape in partnership with the client.

Who:   Matt Weiner, Creative Director 
What: Hard work

Clients want to know that their agency is working at least as hard as them to help achieve their goals.

Who:   Justine Hembury 
What: Value

All businesses are concerned with the bottom line – cashflow, budgets and finances. Value is essential – all the above are important but if contracts aren’t renewed due to a lack of value, there will be no money in and no bills paid! No business will survive that.

So there you have it, a client needs to decide which benefit(s) is most important to them. There are a lot of great agencies out there, they just might not be great for you.

As for myself, I’d always want to start with the good old-fashioned ‘chemistry’ meeting. To quote David Ogilvy, “It’s only the people who matter, nothing else.”