4 building blocks for sustainable agency client relationships

Partnering for Growth

A new white paper, Partnering for Growth, commissioned by the IPA outlines the key characteristics and contexts that can create long-term, mutually sustainable client/agency relationships. It was officially unveiled at the IPA Business Growth Conference.

The paper, authored by Only Dead Fish’s Neil Perkin, reveals that there are four fundamental building blocks for mutuality (mutually sustainable client/agency relationships) to ensure partnerships for growth. Captured in the acronym ‘S.O.U.L.’ - Shared Foundation, Organisation, Understanding and Learning, the white paper explains that these four fundamental elements are interdependent; if one element is missing, true mutuality in client/agency arrangements cannot happen.

The four building blocks of S.O.U.L.:

Shared Foundation: shared goals and ambitions, and a commercial model that provides the basis for mutual long-term benefit and growth

Organisation: the team setup and the way that the work is structured to derive maximum impact and value for both parties. This may include how the team is organised, the agreed scope of work, ways to ensure clarity around roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities

Understanding: how the client/agency team works, communicates, and creates an environment in which everyone can do their best work

Learning: how the client/agency team embeds continuous improvement, optimisation, innovation and learning in client/agency relationships.

The research for the paper comprised a comprehensive series of in-depth interviews with senior practitioners from a number of key stakeholder groups, including clients, agencies, industry research organisations and academia and is supported by extensive desk research into the dynamics surrounding client/agency relationships alongside successful partnerships from other industries.

In addition to chapters on creating mutually sustainable commercial relationships and on creating mutually sustainable growth, the white paper covers the context for mutuality, how to engender trust, collaboration and safety, and how to create longevity and ‘anti-fragile’ relationships.

Says Christian Byron, Chair of the IPA Commercial Leadership Group and Chief Operating Officer, OMD "As this report acknowledges, there are a number of challenges affecting our ability to develop relationships that are mutually beneficial – from rapid changes and economic uncertainty at the national and global level; to the challenges within our own industry, including reduced CMO tenure, increased accountability pressures and the status of marketing itself."

To navigate these challenges alone is hard, and with a recession threatening, the need to unite and become partners for growth is urgent and imperative.

Christian Byron, Chair of the IPA Commercial Leadership Group and Chief Operating Officer, OMD

"Which is why these in-depth findings are so helpful. I have no doubt that companies that instill and nourish these building blocks – which the paper explains combine to be greater than the sum of their parts – will emerge stronger, healthier and more commercially successful." 

Download Partnering for Growth white paper (25 IPA members / £50 non-members).
Last updated 01 May 2024