Chemistry Squared: the secret for amazing client relationships

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and even more so with news of the big Omnicom/Publicis merger. So many client/agency relationships are just meh and yet they go on and on…

And on.

Because no one wants to pull the plug. 

Well maybe one side or the other does, but that takes a lot of energy and it’s often easier to stick with the devil – or holding company- you know, so to speak.

Which leads to the question…

What brings out the best collaboration between an agency and an entrepreneurial client?

I think it comes down to one thing: Chemistry Squared.

Now hold your horses. Before you say, ‘But you can’t forget talent, commitment, passion, creativity, strategy, idea, budget…’

I agree with you on all counts. Each of these is an integral element of the formula.

But if any one of these supplants the underlying chemistry, things just won’t fly.

How does Chemistry Squared work?

It’s made up of two intertwined parts:

Part one is the connection between you and your client. You need to like, respect and enjoy spending time with each other.  If you cringe when you see their number pop up on your phone or get an email from them, the connection is definitely not there. And sadly, that happens more than you think.

Part two has to do with the work itself. Both client and agency have to believe in whatever it is you’re collaborating on. You need to become true partners. That goes a lot deeper than saying, what a cool project. It means you inherently grasp the idea and the goal and are invested in it. Whatever it takes, you know you’ll see it through.

Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing and you won’t agree on everything (see sycophant).

In ideal situations you’ll both ask questions, have discussions or debates, build on the concept, provide inspiration, help each other get unstuck and listen. And those ‘I thought of that’ egos need to be parked at the door.

Chemistry Squared works well when both sides have a startup or entrepreneurial mindset, willing to take risks and make decisions. But I’ve experienced it with large companies/agencies too. It happens when you get that magical combination of personal connection coupled with absolute excitement for the project.

That’s where exponential amplification comes in.

Do you have any other suggestions on what makes an agency-client relationship soar? I’d love to hear them.

About Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman is a digital, social media and communications strategist, content marketer, social media trainer and instructor and co-founder of three PR agencies. He blogs at myPALETTE and hosts the Inside PR podcast.

Nabiha 1 Like

And those ‘I thought of that’ egos need to be parked at the door." Wow. You nailed it in one sentence. Completely agree with both parts of your philosophy. The second one is usually ignored by agencies because they're in it to earn more than anything else. And it shows.

David Ogilvy, the guru, used to try out his clients products and use them before he'd brainstorm ideas for its advertising. He believed that if you don't use your clients' products yourself, you can't convince customers to do the same.

martinwaxman moderator

@Nabiha Thanks for your comment. We can learn a lot from David Ogilvy today.