Seven Things a Client Wants From An Advertising Agency

When you talk to clients about what they want from an advertising agency, the answers seem to run in similar patterns – fresh thinking, great ideas, and dedicated senior level people working on their business. What else are clients really looking for?

  1. Category Knowledge and Experience

    In many cases, Clients like to pick an advertising agency based on category experience. “I know they understand fast food, but what do they know about women’s apparel?” Reading research decks and conducting focus groups is key in getting up to speed on a new client. However, category knowledge can be crucial in our business. If an agency has created successful campaigns for similar products or categories, this can give them an upper hand to understanding the situation and ramping up to speed quickly.

  2. Are they walking the walk or just talking the talk?

    Clients really want to know that their advertising agency is doing what they say they are doing. Are they delivering on their promises? Are they keeping at budget? Are they making their dates? If the answer is “yes”, clients can take a sigh of relief. “Walking the Walk” can set a client’s mind at ease. If they know that things are getting done and done right, it’s reassuring.

  3. Are they available when needed?

    Advertising is not a 9 to 5 job. I repeat, advertising is not a 9 to 5 job. Clients love knowing that their ad agency is available to them in a pinch. In today’s world of smartphones, laptops and tablets, accessibility is almost instant. Many marketing directors are being pulled into multiple directions and are working longer hours and weekends. Clients really like knowing that their agency folks are available after hours if needed. Most good agency folks check in over the weekend.

  4. Do they have the drive?

    Does the agency really CARE for the business? You certainly hope so. Clients want to know that the advertising agency cares as much as they do. Doing great work is one thing, but being passionate about the business is another. Many years ago, I had the honor of working on a nationally recognized pediatric hospital. The work we produced was amazing and effective. What I really loved was that we were making a difference in the lives of children each and every day. I felt it. To this day, I still support the organization and am close friends with their former marketing team. The bottom line – all clients want to be your favorite client and the one you’re always thinking about.

  5. Advice and leadership

    Clients love those who can think and do. Marketing directors don’t want to mandate the direction of a new campaign. They want the agency to bring them new, fresh ideas. The advertising agency needs to carefully listen, ask just the right questions and then deliver the right work. Sometimes, a little push back to a client can be very helpful. The client might be so bogged down in their world that they are overlooking something new and exciting. The days of the Larry Tate “yes man” are gone. Being an order taker isn’t enough.

  6. Consistency – Keeping the team together

    Over time, an agency account person can start to read a client’s mind. Ok, maybe not reading their mind, but you get the picture. Having a strong history and knowledge of the account is great.  Like siblings, a good account person and client can get into a pretty good working rhythm. This synergy can make things run more efficiently by not have to explain or re-explain to every new person that starts on the account. Clients really love when their account team stays consistent.

  7. Are they charging me too much?

    Clients understand that an advertising agency is in business to make money. If a client starts to feel that their agency is taking advantage of them, they could question the relationship as a whole. In today’s thinner profit margins, agencies are tasked with being even more cost effective for clients. Be careful with your recommendations. Make sure they are on strategy and are the best that money can buy.

To an advertising agency, there is nothing more pleasing than a long term client. Getting clients to stay is a science. Keeping the relationship fresh, exciting, and beneficial to both parties is crucial.

If you have any questions or would like more advice on how to pick an advertising agency, call Channel Communications at 410-296-0697 or email

Rick Grant is our resident master of all trades, with 20-plus years of experience in account services, media, traffic, and production. As account supervisor, Rick oversees several of our largest and longest standing clients—who became that way in no small part to his stewardship.