Podcast: How strategy sets the best client-agency teams apart from the rest

The often-overlooked area of strategy is a key indicator of an effective business relationship, new data from Aprais and WARC has shown.

Speaking with Aprais founder and chair Kim Walker on a podcast outlining the results of a groundbreaking new joint research project, Amy Rodgers, head of content for WARC Creative said: ‘Our research often finds strategists feel undervalued and afterthoughts. This research adds a proof point that strong strategy and planning produces effective results.’

The joint research project used Aprais’ global database of more than 25,000 client-agency evaluations over 20 years and WARC’s Effective 100 database to look at the correlation between client-agency relationships and effectiveness award-winning work.

The data found clear evidence that award-winning relationships are stronger, on average, both when clients score their agencies and when agencies score their clients.

Aprais Effectiveness report
Report available April 3, 2023.

Strategy was the discipline in which winning teams showed the biggest increase in scores. Rodgers said: ‘When we hear from highly awarded clients and agencies, they talk about both client and agency fully understanding what they’re trying to achieve with their marketing strategy and clients fully embracing that strategy throughout the business.’

Walker added that behaviours including trust and challenge were other areas where award-winning client-agency teams scored highly.

‘Challenge is critical, but very difficult in today’s intensely competitive business environment,’ he said. ‘In a business context challenge requires courage, and trust.’

How to improve strategy


  • Ensure briefs are clear, thorough, inspiring, timely and in line with brand strategy
  • Demonstrate a long-term strategic vision and lead the brand and agency in that direction
  • Give agencies every opportunity to learn about the client’s business and organisational culture
  • Never stop learning! Remain up to date on all aspects of your business, brand and profession


  • Accumulate and apply learning from experience within and beyond a client’s category
  • Ensure brand integrity is maintained at all stages of the process
  • Effectively apply research and an understanding of consumer contact points in the development of strategies
  • Accurately and effectively interpret the client’s business needs into action
  • Never stop learning! Remain up to date on all aspects of your profession

Listen to the full podcast here.