As a business, advertising couldn’t be any more subjective. Success in advertising takes a really healthy client-agency relationship. Over the years, we’ve learned some of the most important ingredients to maintaining a strong working relationship are:

1. Sharing, of info, ideas, opinions, concerns, deadlines, budget constraints, lunch, a golf cart. If we both lay all our cards on the table face up, we’ll be better partners for each other.

Tying the knot.

2. Honesty, especially when providing—and receiving—feedback.

3. Access to senior people. For clients, few things are worse than the feeling you didn’t get your agency’s best thinking. For agencies, things aren’t as great as they can be when the senior head honcho’s feedback is relayed by the junior honcho. We like regular summit meetings. Doesn’t have to be a big deal, but they need to be regular. Maybe monthly or quarterly lunch. Even senior head honchos eat.

4. Agreement. Most importantly, on the big things, like the story your brand should tell.

5. Disagreement. Don’t worry, they’re going to happen. Nothing wrong with them. In fact, candid exchanges can strengthen ideas.

6. Wisdom. In particular, the wisdom to recognize when the accumulation of tiny changes has taken what was a really strong idea and weakened it to the point it’s no longer the idea your agency presented.

7. Risk. Logic and reason and rational thought are no longer infallible when you’re dealing with human behaviors and perceptions and decision making. There’s an inherent risk in advertising that needs to be embraced, or we’ll kill the opportunity to make an emotional connection.

8. Laughter. If we’re not squeezing a chuckle into things here and there, we’re doing it wrong.

9. Respect. We know what we’re doing. We do what we do every day all day. We study how others do what we do, too. We know our clients know what they’re doing, too. They do what they do every day all day and they study hard, too. When both sides know, there’s more trust, and less second-guessing and micromanaging.

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