In an agency, choosing your employees becomes, over time, somewhat of an intuitive process. We learn to feel out the vibe of a given candidate: do you think we’ll have fun working with this person? Will they fit in well with our team?
On the other hand, when it comes time to look for clients, we sometimes forget to apply these same rules and criteria. However, since we spend a lot of time collaborating with them, it is as if we were inviting clients to be part of our team for the duration of a project.
Good ideas tend to stem from a relationship of trust, so it is essential for an agency to know how to choose its clients and business partners appropriately and ultimately to know how to properly say no.
Getting caught up in the chase
A new pitch arrives, the client has a good brand, the whole team is motivated, we go for it. We launch ourselves with a feverish energy and are pumped with adrenaline to win this contract. Ideally, you would want to vet the person even before starting the partnership, but this is rarely what happens.
This scenario is all too common since in marketing agencies, we like to sell and above all to win. It’s a legitimate mind state. It’s also that competitive spirit that keeps us in business. The trap is to let yourself be blinded and baited by the lure of profit and forgetting your corporate culture. It happens to the best of us: we meet a client, we find them a little special, but we think we can convince them, and somehow we muzzle our intuition for the sake of winning.
It may seem quite counter-intuitive to end a relationship with a client. You’ve worked hard to seduce them and now you must tell them you’re no longer interested in working with them. But that’s exactly what you need to do in order to stay true your company culture and keep your team in good spirits.
Fun, creative or paid
Luckily, these partnerships can pay off in many ways: in revenue, fun, or creativity. If you cannot tick at least two of these three boxes, you have to seriously ask yourself why you would want to invest in such a type of relationship. And often, we realize that we are tempted to leave pleasure and creativity aside in favour, precisely, of profit.
Before even thinking about how a relationship could pay off, you must first understand and live your own corporate culture. This kind of introspection is fundamental since the values that will be identified will become the criteria that will allow you to choose the people with whom you want to work with: does the way that this person functions mesh with our values?
The overarching theme here is not to say that some people are “bad” partners. Rather, it’s about identifying their strengths, being super clear about how you operate, and refusing to work with people who are not aligned with your values in order to preserve your integrity and your pleasure in working.
Dare to be brave
All marketing agencies, regardless of their size, benefit from always staying faithful to their core corporate culture. Why? Because having a complicit relationship with one client will bring you ten more, while working with only one incompatible client will slow down your expansion by siphoning all your energy; an energy that could have been better invested in a client more aligned with who you are and which contributes, by the same token, to making your brand shine.
And it certainly pays off when it’s fun. By improving the quality of life of your employees and clearly identifying the values you wish to convey within your agency, you will succeed in increasing the retention rate of your employees, attracting future candidates and partners more easily, in addition to providing you with precise selection criteria to evaluate your customers.
To give you some courage and a much needed push, the next time you hesitate to refuse a business partner, think about all the long-term consequences: loss of motivation within the team, physical and emotional unhappiness, loss of your best employees, etc. Is this really what you want?
Over time, ending a business relationship or redirecting a client to an agency whose corporate culture is more in line with that client’s personality and needs will become a healthy habit.
So, are you ready to say no?