ESSENTIALS TOOLKIT: GETTING MORE FROM YOUR CLIENTS
TIME TO GET CLOSE AND PERSONAL
Whether you’ve been keeping afloat or flourishing during the past few months, your relationships with existing clients will have played a key role. The sectors you operate in will have had a bearing on this. If you’ve been fortunate enough to have had clients in sectors that are thriving, and haven’t had to face up to the challenge of prospecting for new clients, that probably feels like a blessing. But that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels. Developing long-term client relationships has always been a proven growth driver – businesses with strong growth rates earn 70-80% of their revenue this way; but it’s not just about the money – as trust and shared success builds, long-term relationships generally produce better work too.
As confidence picks up and momentum returns, it’s vital that you consider your future approach to developing existing client relationships – and with new client expectations very much in mind. During the crisis clients have seen new ideas, found better ways of getting things done and redefined the standards they expect from agencies in the future. As an agency you will need to respond to these changing needs and expectations.
CHOOSE THE CLIENTS TO FOCUS ON
The clients you’ve been working with may not all be the ones who’ll be right for the future or bring you the best returns; for those that are right, you’ll need to decide how you’re planning to maximise the relationship for growth. Selecting the right clients to develop will depend on your business objectives – growth, profitability, offer (with a new era perspective not necessarily what you’ve done in the past). Some questions you should be asking: Does the client have the kind of problems you are expert at solving? Do they offer the potential for longevity, regularity and profitability? And don’t forget the softer stuff: the human factor is also key. Does the client value your offer, your work, your skills, your people? Do you enjoy working with them (and they with you)?
KNOW WHAT YOUR CLIENTS REALLY THINK ABOUT YOU
A SWOT analysis of the client relationship is an essential part of creating the plan. Agencies often think they know how they are viewed by a client – but this is invariably based on perceptions and assumptions, some of which may be out of date. We recommend that our clients invest in regular Client Listening Studies (which we conduct on their behalf to ensure complete transparency and honesty) in order to identify areas for improvement – and importantly, track performance over time. These studies can also be a valuable business development tool, identifying new areas and opportunities, creating awareness of other parts of your offer.
CREATE ROBUST CLIENT PLANS
Whilst many agencies spend time and energy creating detailed new business plans, few put the same proactivity and rigour into client development plans. Expecting or hoping that you’ll pick up additional business from a client (just because you have in the past) won’t cut it in the context of our new world. With marketing budgets under the spotlight like never before and more agencies fighting for fewer briefs, you’ll need to be sharp and smart. That means focussing and planning your client development activities, ensuring you have the right resource and budget allocated to them. The basis of the plan should be a deep understanding of the client’s business objectives and priorities (which may have changed as a result of the pandemic and may continue to change); the plan must have clear objectives, actions, responsibilities and timings.
TRACK AND ADAPT
Your client development plans should be live working documents to help guide and focus your activities – not a checklist that provides you with a nice warm feeling and lives in a file. And remember that client development is not the responsibility of one or two individuals – involve the team, create a sense of shared ownership and enthusiasm, deploy your frontline people across all disciplines. Creatives and strategists are by definition problem solvers – and solving is selling.
In this new era, a couple of watch-outs: don’t try to do too many things, do a few things well; and don’t try to plan too far ahead - as priorities shift within your client’s business, you’ll need to be agile and prepared to change tack and adapt your plan.
EMBRACE THE HUMAN TOUCH
This has always been a key factor in creating successful long-term relationships but now it’s become a tablestake. During lockdown, as work/life boundaries have blurred, relationship dynamics have evolved, engagement has become more personal and human. The past few months have provided an unexpected opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with clients. Don’t let this drop as and when things begin to return to ‘normal’. Like any relationship, those with your clients will benefit from time invested, commitment and empathy.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Every business will have different client development challenges, but there are some common areas where clients have found external perspectives and help beneficial.
Client development planning
We’ll help you make sure you’re focussing on the right clients who will provide the best ROI in the long-term; then we’ll work with you to create a plan of attack focussing on the most fruitful areas and opportunities that align with your overall business objectives and utilise your resource in the best way. Once the plan is up and running, we’ll have regular check-ins to ensure you’re keeping on track and evolving as needed. Getting this right will result in sustainable income, profitability, regularity and longevity.
Client listening studies
A key tool for gathering meaningful feedback and insight from clients and identifying business development opportunities. We’ll work with you to define the scope of the study and the best clients to involve. We’ll then conduct the research and present the findings back to you and your team with the emphasis on what’s working; what could work better; and importantly, where next?
HOW WE CAN WORK TOGETHER
We recognise that agencies will have different levels of capability, time and budget to deal with a specific issue. So we’ve designed all our services to give you different ways of drawing on our expertise and experience to help your business thrive.
We’ll bring all our knowledge and experience - and share it with you throughout the process. You and your team will handle most of the work in line with the programme we’ll agree together. We’ll review and challenge your work and make sure you stay on track to deliver your objectives.
We’ll not only share all our knowledge and experience, but we’ll use our expertise and ideas to actually deliver specific parts of the programme for you. We’ll take on some of the detailed challenges but will always be close to you and your team. You’ll be confident of the best possible outcomes, efficiently and quickly.