Restoring Client Relationships

How to Re-engineer for Greater Health & Success

Michael Farmer/ CEO Farmer & Co

Re-balance client relationships to increase strategic influence, control scope creep and structure compensation to get paid for deliverables, not hours.

About the Speaker:

Michael Farmer is Chairman of Farmer & Company LLC, a strategy consulting firm. He is also Professor of Branding & Integrated Communications at CCNY and authored award-winning book Madison Avenue Manslaughter. He has written a weekly column on client-agency issues for and is working on a new book about the makeover of the industry. Michael is a former Director of Bain & Company, Harvard Business School grad (MBA with high honors) and Princeton grad.


Over many years, agency-client relationships have been compromised by a series of issues. The slowdown in brand growth since 2008 has forced advertisers to focus on cost management, with many dysfunctional outcomes.

Advertisers commonly fail to pay agencies for documented Scopes of Work, instead paying for an arbitrary number of man hours. Simultaneously, advertisers cut fees while expanding Scopes of Work, forcing agencies to downsize in the face of growing workloads.

As a result, agency capabilities have eroded and they cannot integrate fully across all media, leaving the door open for advertisers to seek “best in class” specialist agencies in various disciplines. This has destroyed AOR relationships and reduced the influence of agency strategic thinking.

Learn how agencies can re-engineer their relationships and re-focus on restoring brand growth.

Key Takeaways

  • Redefine from “vendorship” to “strategic” with new mission statement
  • Upgrade Scope of Work template for documentation/measurement
  • Detailed approach to “Pay-by-deliverable” instead of “pay for hours”

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