Creating an effective relationship with the client is an imperative part of running our agency. A positive relationship not only leads to producing the best work and successful campaigns, but our clients benefit from having a consistent advertising partner who can help their business grow. The longevity allows our team to develop a deeper understanding of our clients’ industries with the ability to recommend more nuanced and varied marketing tactics.
There are a few strategies that help our team breed trust and loyalty, and a lot of it boils down to communication. We are not alone in this thinking. In fact, 77 percent of clients believe that their agency could provide more added value communication. That’s a huge number of clients that feel like the communication they are receiving from their agency is lacking. So, what do we do to make sure our clients are happy?
Before Signing On
There are a few critical elements our team considers before on-boarding a client which sets our agency up for communication success. The first is to begin developing the relationship during the selection process. It’s important the client feels comfortable with the agency and vice versa.
Of course, we want strategy to win the day, but both parties also need to feel a high level of compatibility when it comes to interpersonal communication; we are going to be spending a lot of time interacting and working on a critical part of your business operations for the success of your company. We should enjoy working together.
The second is to confirm company culture compatibility:
Do our agency and the client share similar ideals when it comes to the way things work and flow?
The size of each company will affect the feel of the relationship, too. Does the client want to work with a smaller, boutique firm where they’re a big fish, or do they like the feel of a larger provider where they might be one of many similarly sized accounts or a “small” account in the eyes of a larger agency?
All of these facets contribute to the style of communication that will be provided to the client, and at the end of the day if it’s not the right fit from the beginning, it’s likely that the situation won’t improve over time. This can lead to dissatisfaction from both parties, and ultimately a client departure or agency resignation. It’s important to determine the feel is right before signing a contract.
- Dedicated Teams
Consider an agency structure that provides dedicated account service teams that are separate from the media department.
This has proven to be effective in communication for our team as it allows the client to have a direct line of communication to the agency, while letting the other departments stay focused on strategy and campaign optimizations.
While the day-to-day communication is facilitated by the account team, weekly client meetings allow our team leaders to present in a more detailed format, giving that added value communication from our media specialists.
- Comprehensive Onboarding Process
Establish a strong working relationship from day one. It is critical for communication that the client knows who their primary point of contact is at the agency and which team members will be responsible for their business.
While it is common to come into a working relationship with a strategic roadmap and new direction to accomplish the client’s desired results, it’s good to recognize there may be elements of their current model that are working.
We conduct numerous initial discovery meetings to uncover current success models and develop a plan to layer in new campaigns to further grow and enhance results. As needed, key team leaders are included in these discussions to ensure streamlined communication from the onset of the relationship.
- Recurring Meetings and Communication Structure
It can be common for clients to get caught up in the day-to-day management of their business—which is totally understandable. To help them focus on their marketing efforts, we set up a dedicated, recurring weekly meeting.
In these meetings we include a dive into detailed progress reports and an opportunity for our clients to provide business updates and express their needs. A survey of what clients value most from their agencies showed 36 percent want smart data and analytics; we provide these types of insights on a regular basis.
In addition to daily email communication, third party communication tools like Basecamp, Asana or Trello can be used to further manage communication streams and ongoing project work.
- Lean into the Experts
A key component of a successful working client-agency relationship is recognizing the value in each team member’s expertise.
The client is the expert on their business. There is no one that knows it better or can claim to understand it nearly as well. We ask that our clients communicate and share their knowledge with the agency team—and we listen to their feedback.
The agency’s goal is to be experts enough to effectively reach the target audience, and our team’s expertise plays a pivotal role in marketing success. We also recognize that without the input from the client and working in a symbiotic relationship it will be a challenge to truly meet the target KPIs.
- Trusted Advisors as an Extension of the Client Team While an agency is not part of the client’s in-house team, the communication and workflow should be so seamless that we are an integrated extension of the internal team, there to support and enhance the efforts as trusted advisors. The result will be a cohesive and comprehensive relationship where the client feels the agency works in house and is fully attentive and proactive with all their needs.
Does your business need an agency partner? Learn how EXACTA MEDIA can help. We specialize in end-to-end media management from strategy through buy and optimization. Connect with our team of experts to learn more.