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Picture: UNSPLASH/CYTON PHOTOGRAPHY
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Building and maintaining relationships is as important a part of life in the agency space as delivering impeccable creative and media work, but what does it take to deliver on both? We asked some of our clients to share their views for a lasting client-agency relationship. 

Here are the top three game-changers.

1. Trusted in-depth experience 

Experience engenders trust. One of Ebony+Ivory’s most enduring relationships is with Creamer Media, spanning more than 20 years. The management team developed a relationship with the agency founder and MD Paul Middleton, which has carried through over decades and through radical changes in the industry and country. 

CEO Kenneth Creamer says that when an agency focuses on service and consistent communication, it maintains a fruitful client relationship that extends beyond rands and cents.

He believes that good chemistry between an agency and client starts with a kernel but needs to be cultivated — which Middleton agrees with. “In most cases, it has to be cultivated — it’s not often that it’s instant — and cultivating that chemistry is a client service person’s ongoing task,” he says.

2. Team diversity in action

An agency name such as Ebony+Ivory references an inclusive approach that begins on the inside and carries through to a co-creation and collaborative approach to working with clients. The Industrial Development Corporation of SA (IDC) is another long-term client, liaising with marketing manager Sabrina van der Grijp for close to a decade, across two stints. 

“Ebony+Ivory was already working with the IDC when I arrived, and I was instantly aware that I could trust the team and follow their lead, knowing they had our back,” she says. “The agency is great at creating a team that delivers powerful media planning and creative work because they are so diverse, which means their work is incredibly considered.”

It’s effectively about having the balance right in life experience and perspectives for each client brief. Over its 50 years, one of the constants for the agency has been about following its founder’s philosophy: “Good advertising is a balance of form and function; science and showmanship; impact and restraint — each playing its part in the whole, to maximum efficiency.”

3. Proactive in-business partners

Having managed more than 27 agencies across various functions at the IDC, Van der Grijp says that one thing that has always made Ebony+Ivory stand out is the way that it sees the bigger picture and is willing to make space for the other agencies to shine. 

“We had a new agency come on board, and because working with them served the greater good, the team willingly shared the platform and assumed a mentoring role to help on-board them and get them up to speed so they could also deliver work that would help the cause.” 

“Not one person on the Ebony+Ivory team isn’t included in the way the agency is going,” says Van der Grijp. “Everyone is part of the success and longevity of the business and they all work to build relationships with clients because they know that that will allow them to deliver more value.”

Hands-on campaign management, transparency and competitive rates follow these top three healthy relationship enablers. “Delivering value, providing great service and a positive end result have always been driven by openness, honesty and a genuine passion for the clients’ services or products,” says Middleton.

On building relationships with clients and the co-operative approach, he says: “You’ll quickly see into the heart and soul of people and how they operate, if you work openly with them. You can feel how things are going to go with like-minded people and businesses from day one — those relationships are just easy, so one instinctively gives them more. That’s why they last.”

This article was paid for by Ebony+Ivory.

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