Understanding Client Satisfaction: It Depends On Who’s Asking The Questions

How often have you recommended to a client that they conduct research among their own customers to gauge overall satisfaction and uncover what they value about the relationship to your client’s company or brand? You’re astute enough to know that armed with customer satisfaction data, you can more knowledgeably guide that client in everything from customer acquisition to integration of sales and marketing to customer retention. Now, how often have you thought about the need to understand the satisfaction of your agency’s clients? The fact is agencies tend to avoid client satisfaction surveys for two reasons: We’re either afraid to ask the big questions for fear we might hear something we don’t like, or we assume everything is good because they are still with us. Both ways of thinking can lead to missing an opportunity to fine-tune your relationship with your clients, or more importantly heading off an impending disaster. As an agency owner, you shouldn’t be involved in every detail of what’s happening between your clients and your agency. But, that doesn’t mean you should operate within a vacuum either. If you have an established “one-on-one” meeting process in place between you and your direct reports, and those direct reports have the same established with staff members they manage, then you should have a general awareness of what’s happening with clients. Your responsibility is to ensure that the management of client relationships is carried out in a manner consistent with the agency’s core values and service philosophy. There may be periods of time when that’s not happening, resulting in a slow erosion of confidence between the client and the agency. Simple ways to gauge client satisfaction That’s why it’s smart to periodically engage your [...]

By |August 14th, 2018|

The Most Important Principle of New Business Pitching

I learned the most important lesson about new business pitching from an unlikely source for a man in my business: record producer Jimmy Iovine. In 2013 I was a proud dad sitting in the audience at the University of Southern California’s commencement ceremony. The keynote speaker was famous music producer and co-founder of Beats headphones, Jimmy Iovine. He told an unforgettable story that I’ve applied to sales conversations ever since. As I remember it, Jimmy described his start as a sound engineer working on an early Bruce Springsteen album. After working on Born to Run with producer Jon Landau, he was asked to work on the follow up album, Darkness On the Edge of Town. He was tasked to find the right drum beat for a song, and it wasn’t an easy job. After spending six weeks working around the clock trying to get the sound that Bruce had in his head actualized with instruments, Jimmy became frustrated. Bruce wanted a specific sound that he had trouble describing, and Jimmy was failing time after time at delivering what the Boss was looking for. No matter what they tried, it wasn’t working. Bruce kept rejecting the work, which left Jimmy feeling disrespected and on the verge of quitting. When All Seemed Lost, A Pivotal Moment It was then that a pivotal moment took place: Bruce’s manager looked Jimmy straight in the eye and said something to the effect of, “you go back there and say to Bruce ‘I’m here to support you. This is not about me. It’s about the album.’ You will have a friend for the rest of your life.” Jimmy swallowed his pride and did just that. In the end, Jimmy never nailed [...]

By |July 24th, 2018|

Clients Long for Brave Agencies: 3 Fears to Conquer

Launching an agency means challenges are bound to arise, and these challenges often revolve around money and perspective. When the two collide, that’s when most brave agencies stumble a bit. As soon as the words “revenue” and “loss” appear in the same sentence, many brave agencies understandably freeze with fear. It’s easy to lose objectivity and the ability to stay focused on the big picture. That often leads to an agency scrambling to take on new clients, regardless of their suitability. This “any port in a storm” mentality can really jeopardize an agency’s ability to create stability and profitability. It also leads to brave agencies being less willing to stand their ground and advocate for what they know is the best solution for their clients. It’s easy to capitulate when you’re worried about making payroll. But when clients search for brave agencies, they’re looking for that outside perspective. They don’t need a “yes” man; they need objectivity and an outside viewpoint they can’t find internally. This difference in opinion won’t always have you seeing eye to eye, but that’s usually what sparks the big idea—that collaborative, 360-degree viewpoint. If you’re challenging one another, ideas get better. And it’s the co-creation of those ideas where trust is earned. The bottom line: Your agency must have the confidence—or dare I say, the bravery—to find your voice and speak up. That’s the value you bring to your clients, which in turn is what creates value for you as a business. How you go about finding your voice and solidifying those bonds with clients is entirely up to you, but it often starts with mustering the courage to do the following: 1. Hold Strong Opinions To be treated as [...]

By |June 27th, 2018|

Your clients are still struggling with ROI from existing customers

Despite a mandate to drive growth, chief marketers are still stuck in a decade-long rut that has yet to see them fully optimize the lifetime value of existing customers. In 2008, when asked if brands were fully realizing the revenue potential of customers, 76 percent said no. Ten years later, 77 percent of respondents to the same question in a new Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council audit still say no, and 10 percent say they are not even sure. This is why you and your AEs need to understand the math of a lifetime customer.  We talk about/teach this is all of our AE bootcamps (live and on-demand) and I'm always surprised at how few of the attendees have been exposed to the idea of calculating, monitoring and monetizing the lifetime value of a customer. This failure to capitalize on customer revenue potential does not come as a surprise as the majority of marketers are missing an opportunity to leverage opt-in, triggered communications, including transactional email, to further relationships with customers. According to the latest study by the CMO Council and communication management platform Sendwithus, just 36 percent of respondents are leveraging transactional emails as an opportunity to further the value of relationships. While 30 percent believe they are engaging through triggered emails, it is only to reaffirm or acknowledge a past transaction, not to intentionally develop a more meaningful customer relationship. This occurs despite 94 percent of respondents’ belief that delivery of personalized communications across all customer touchpoints is critical to achieving profitable customer experiences. The new report, titled “Gaining Traction With Every Digital Interaction,” reveals that collaboration around the channels of choice for the customer is critical to turning an automated touchpoint into a [...]

By |May 15th, 2018|

That Potential Client Is Judging You So Focus on Making a Good First Impression

No, thin-slicing isn't a phrase to describe the way you cut a loaf of bread; it's a term that denotes what we do upon first meeting people. According to Oregon State University professor Frank Bernieri, people make immediate judgments about others from observing only mere seconds -- aka a "thin slice of" -- their behavior. "From the evidence gleaned in not much more than a few glances, we decide whether we like another person, whether they're trying to flirt with us, whether they're friend or foe," Bernieri suggests in a Guardian article. Regardless of environment or circumstance, this very thin-slicing -- otherwise known as making a first impression -- can make or break your chances of coming across in a positive light, and it’s especially crucial when vetting new business. Case in point: Guard for the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry, opted against doing business with Nike in 2017 because during an in-person pitch, a Nike rep butchered Curry’s name. To make matters worse, the rep left a placeholder name -- Kevin Durant, Curry’s teammate -- in the published write-up. Because of this, the NBA player decided instead to partner with Under Armour. Say it with me: It’s all about first impressions. Screw it up once, and you’ve likely lost business for good. The scene is no different in the marketing industry. An owner prepares to nab a prospective client, but when it comes to awareness of his behavior and presence during the pitch, the owner can’t see the forest for the trees. Even if that’s not the case, the owner hesitates to identify areas of specialty for fear of leaving money on the table. The result? He comes across as he never intended: like a dime-a-dozen marketing sheep. While [...]

By |February 21st, 2018|

Go beyond Google Analytics and use data to educate your clients

Numbers and data are no longer a daunting task — they’ve now become an integral part of a company’s operations. The issue is most companies are only given the basic facts of their data without the what’s, how’s, and why’s that are driving the analytics. Jaywing, a British data-based digital agency, found that brands across the board are failing to take advantage of marketing technology innovations, including how data can lead to larger explanations of how their audiences consume. Further, the agency’s 2017 Data-Driven Marketing Report found that 23 percent of marketers rate data science and analytics as the least important marketing skill. By contrast, the Data & Marketing Association found that 33 percent of marketers said having the right technology for data collection and analysis as the most important tool for understanding audiences. Given these disparities (and the fact that marketers are expected to spend 11 percent of their budget on analytics), it’s important to understand why data is an essential part of your client's business and how you should present it to garner the best results.  How companies are using marketing analytics:   1. Clients now expect more from analytics. As clients get more familiar with data jargon, they begin to understand more about what is being collected. Further, they’re hearing buzzwords like “big data,” so naturally they want more than just numbers thrown at them — they want an explanation. Clients now want to know what data does, its fluctuations, and how it will affect their business. Agencies are currently searching for the right direction to send their clients in as well as condensing data into points of value. Data is coming from all directions, and having the right people on staff who can analyze it well [...]

By |January 3rd, 2018|

A Summer Silent Client Doesn’t Have To Equal Lost Revenue

The only thing worse than losing a client is working with one who stalls. As an agency owner for 20 years, I have seen clients hesitate for every reason imaginable, and I've developed best practices to limit lost resources and keep projects moving. Understand How Project Delays Happen Every stalled situation starts the same way. The client is in panic mode. He needs this project now. You pull strings and work overtime to solve the crisis, but the next time you check in, the client says he needs to hold tight for a day or two. That day turns into a week, then two, and then into months, and all the while you’re waiting and bleeding resources that could be put to better use elsewhere. Delays cost money to maintain and money to start up again once the client is ready to get back at it. The longer you stay away from a project, the more factors change, and the longer you need to become reacquainted with the work and its objective. When you finally get to finish what you started, you have to shift work away from other projects because (again) this client needs it done immediately. You don’t want to fire the client -- but you can’t afford to let him dictate your workflow. You can’t send a bill for the time you spend nagging him, so what can you do to keep your stalling clients happy without sacrificing profits in the bargain? Change The Rules The fairest way to keep projects moving without angering clients is to change the wording in your contracts to account for periods of dormancy. Adding fees for reactivation of dormant projects sounds harsh, but in my experience, [...]

By |December 27th, 2017|

Sell What You Do, Not What You Make

Agencies love to talk about their “stuff.” From event strategies to promotional packages, they get deep into the nitty-gritty. Although nuts and bolts might be great for a home renovation project, they don’t produce tons of revenue. What’s the problem? Selling tangible things limits the conversation to stuff that everyone offers. You create websites? Great, but so does every other agency in your marketplace. In other words, by emphasizing what you make, you inadvertently level the playing field. And that’s bound to kill your conversions. Instead of pontificating about features, focus on the service elements that make your agency the most powerful on the globe: It’ll oil the sales funnel and help prospective audiences slide into client roles. It’s what Accenture does, and it’s why it’s the No. 1 agency in the world. Ironically, the company barely makes anything and it’s prospering to the point that its 4,000-employee company just announced the addition of 800 jobs in Atlanta. Those are some serious numbers in a notoriously tough arena, and they do it all by highlighting what can’t be commoditized. Accenture sells its thinking, strategy and planning; in other words, it sells what it knows about the industry. Its expertise — not its products — is its strength, and that’s worth loads to eager customers. Other agencies receive $125 or $150 an hour; Accenture commands up to $400. The company has hit upon a truth in selling and agencies are poised to do likewise if they shift their mindsets from making to doing. What does your agency bring to the party? Prospects are accustomed to playing a price tug of war with their agencies, but when the talk moves toward what you do instead of the cost [...]

By |December 20th, 2017|

How to Stop Your Client from Shopping Around

Think of the last time you went shopping online. Was it for clothes? Shoes? Maybe even a graphic designer? We live in an age where creative contractors are only a click away. More and more, clients are hiring them for single projects or just a few months at a time. The industry has moved to this project-based model, and partnerships between clients and agencies no longer mean as much as they once did. This trend is anything but surprising, however, considering the way the nature of the work has changed. In the past, advertising agencies did advertising: They created ads and bought space to run those ads. Usually, those media buys were for longer periods of time, and agencies made most of their money off the commissions. To guarantee the agency was paid and the client’s budget was maximized, they had to enter into a long-term contract before any work could be done. Today, agencies are doing much more than advertising. They’re developing strategic sales plans. They’re helping with client retention. They’re fostering brand evolution. These are fee-based projects, which means they don’t depend on media commissions. In the midst of this industry shift, the way your agency sells — or doesn’t sell — its value to clients can make or break your chance for a long-term partnership. Sell Solutions, Not Things When an agency makes the mistake of teaching its clients it sells things rather than solutions, clients begin to think of it as a place to shop for a website, brochure or TV spot – rather than looking to invest in long-term strategic ideas and business solutions. Think about it: People don’t change accountants or attorneys every six months because there is value [...]

By |October 5th, 2017|

Why Fickle Clients Are More Profitable In the Long Run

Everyone wants to be the quarterback — the agency that signs a client and is ushered right into the C-suite to serve as the backbone of the client’s marketing strategy. Your agency loves clients like these because they value the same thing you do: the work. They expect you to be the workhorse of their marketing department that can do it all, which leads to a partner dynamic rather than a vendor relationship. According to an Agency Management Institute report, these “looking for love” clients make up 29 percent of companies out there. And while you probably enjoy working for these companies, they might not be the best for your agency. Demanding, Fickle Clients Are Actually More Profitable The AMI report identified another subset of organizations looking for agencies: the clients who like to play the field. These clients see their agencies as a necessary evil, not a core part of the team. They usually look for specialists, rather than generalists (such as PR or SEO), and often have a number of agencies on retainer at the same time. They tend to be fickle and apt to change agencies frequently — even if their current agency is doing a good job. These clients won’t give you the warm fuzzies, but they can come with big benefits in terms of pricing, budgeting, and time commitment. Because playing-the-field clients are specifically looking for tactical expertise, you don’t have to work hard to sell them on your agency. They already know what they need, and they wouldn’t be talking to you unless they’d recognized your ability to fulfill that need. These clients also tend to have bigger budgets and are willing to pay a premium for your brand of [...]

By |September 6th, 2017|