They say the day you get a client is the day you begin to lose them. Over the 19 years that Decision Counsel has been working with clients on the front lines of B2B sales and marketing, we’ve had our share of clients come and go. Thankfully, in most cases they’ve come back again, but this experience has provided us with a unique perspective of the how and why behind client relationship drama. Business relationships are no different than any other — fostered by humans and hopefully predicated on clear communication and mutual respect. With that said (and with mischievous intent), here are our top four relationship-altering moments, the experiences that shape how agencies and clients end up going their separate ways.
“We need to see other people.”
Why do you say the words “conflict of interest” like it’s a bad thing? Is it our fault that we’ve gained a tremendous amount of experience in the B2B product strategy arena? Did you really expect our collective knowledge reaped from this relationship to not attract the attention of that hot new startup? Surely you knew the day we met that other suitors would come calling. After all, it’s the only reason you called us. How can you be so selfish? Your business has grown and the market celebrates your success, yet you never seem to mention us in your press releases. In a hyperconnected world, the results of our collaboration were bound to get out. The market dictates that this was always meant to be an open relationship. We were never exclusive. Agency of Record? You never wanted a long-term commitment. You said your management team wanted to be nimble and agile. You counted on that undefined relationship status because you know it pressured us to work so diligently for you. In the end, we will both look back fondly, right?
“We have trust issues”
When we started seeing each other, it was all about trust. You knew we were accountable, talented, disruptive — that we’ve dedicated ourselves to collaborating to build strategic foundations, deliver enthralling content, and accelerate revenue. If memory serves us correctly, we were going to conquer the world, address big problems, design cool experiences, and produce great content. But something changed; the trust is gone. At some point you wanted more control in this relationship, more say in the copy, more opinions on design. Our seamless partnership crumbled before our eyes. When it came to the quality of creative work, you always gave us the benefit of the doubt. Do we value your opinion? Of course. We always listen, and we trust you know your business. But that relationship needs to be a two-way street. The years of award-winning creative executions? Irrelevant. User experience supported by strategic thinking and insights? Constantly second-guessed. For 20 years, we’ve done it better than anyone in the B2B space, but apparently you are so over it. Xanax, anyone?
“It was good while it lasted.”
Be honest, we both knew what we were getting into. Don’t say we have commitment issues because the one thing we are committed to is doing great work. Like the kind that launched your project into orbit and from which we got a killer case study that attracted exceptional clients. We’re soooo fine doing work on a project-by-project basis. But we also know that sometimes the project has to end, especially before we find ourselves awkwardly staring at each another until one of us blinks. Let’s face it, it’s over. We can always look back on the passionate debates, long nights filled with laughter and liqueur and powerful design sprints. We each got what we needed from the other. Somewhere deep down, we both know that not every relationship is meant to last. Indeed, even the longest retainers end, and we’re ok with that. Let’s decide to make our split amicable because who knows when you might want to come back to us.
“It’s not us, it’s you.”
Where is the client we fell in love with? What happened to all that talk of huge creative budgets and daring ad placements? What has become of the hopes and dreams of integrated campaigns and modern websites? When we met you spoke of experiential installations and even mentioned running a Super Bowl ad. It was going to be the big time, you said. Become agency of the decade, you promised. Then the excuses started. Our TikTok influencer campaign? Too Trendy. We could live with that, but then you killed our Twitch live stream because you thought we were talking about a medical condition. That was it — we had to make a stand. Our fire hasn’t gone out. Our desire to boost your bottom line hasn’t wavered. Remember, we didn’t get into this to do the expected. Or the mundane. How else can we say it? The way you’ve always done things is the last thing we ever want to do. We’ve obviously outgrown each other. And that’s ok. You’ll find someone that appreciates you — your 16 rounds of revisions, your overuse of stock photography, and your insistence on casting your children in ads. We wish you only the best moving forward. Let’s just be friends … or not.
Seriously though, for those who have moved on, we hated to see you go. We truly wish you only happiness and success in your endeavors. That being said, we believe that once you see what’s out there, you’ll come back through our door. And it will be open to you — because we know that it’s ok to be on a break.
– The DC Team
P.S. – We love you all.