Client Relationships

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 [...]

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, [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Sharing Data: Why It’s Crucial To A Successful Agency Partnership

You wouldn’t visit a tailor and request a custom-made suit without providing measurements, would you? So why would you approach an agency in search of better lead generation without sharing data? In short, you wouldn’t. Yet this happens all the time—to the detriment of an otherwise fruitful agency partnership. Just as it’s impossible to make a suit fit perfectly without measurements, it’s difficult for agencies to deliver qualified sales leads without access to critical data. Meaningful lead generation is only possible when an agency can build, execute, and monitor the right plan for your company. If you don’t grant an agency access to sales data, prospect databases, sales calls, follow-up reports, and other crucial information, you’ll never get a tailor-made solution. The Right Data Makes A Difference Right now, agencies and CMOs are under incredible pressure to leverage their marketing dollars to deliver leads. This is happening for a few reasons. First and foremost, they know that 79% of marketing leads don’t convert into sales and that up to 50% of qualified leads aren’t ready to buy. Furthermore, layoffs during the recession created leaner sales teams that need more support from marketing to drive leads into the sales funnel. As a result, CMOs have to fight to grow or even maintain their marketing budgets. On top of that, to justify any marketing spend, CEOs demand data that shows marketing initiatives move the bottom line. That’s why it’s so important for clients to allow open access to their sales processes. This way, an agency can dig deeper into the sales funnel. The more it knows, the better results it can deliver. For example, one of the agencies I work with insists on having sales data, sales-cycle data, [...]

Sales Prospecting: How to Talk to Prospects & Win their Business with Robin Boehler

Prospects. Ever thought about dating them?  Sounds odd I know but my podcast guest Robin Boehler has developed a matchmaking skill between clients and agencies that is bar none. Robin is the co-founder of Mercer Island Group, a boutique marketing and management consultancy. Their analogy of the review process as a form of dating really helps agencies examine how they present themselves to prospective clients and then Robin and her team help them tweak that to differentiate themselves so they stand out from the crowd. Most people want to date the stand out, not the wallflower. Come learn from Robin and I how to stand out by: Getting the agency-client relationship right from the very beginning Why truly differentiating your agency is so crucial The importance of doing your research on a prospect before ever speaking to them and how to do it well Why you should never start out a pitch talking about your agency (and when is the right time to do so) Why networking is the best way to get the opportunity to have quality conversations with prospects Robin’s sales prospecting methodology How to spark curiosity in communication to prospects Robin’s strategy for reaching out to connections that you haven’t spoken to in a while Why you shouldn’t hold back a really smart question just because you don’t want a competing agency to hear it Why each conversation you have with a prospect is the only one that matters Why you must show true interest in a prospect’s business and then learn from what the prospect tells you Robin Boehler is a co-founder of Mercer Island Group, a boutique Marketing and Management Consultancy, a pre-eminent agency search consultant to clients and growth [...]

Has Your Agency Lost Its Swagger? Tips for Boosting Your Confidence & Winning New Clients

The recent recession beat the life out of agencies and their owners. We were so busy begging for business and compromising on our rates that, by the time the economy recovered, we had gotten used to acting beholden to our clients. During this, we lost our swagger. Thanks to years of agency struggles, today’s clients and prospects can practically smell desperation during a pitch. To make clients hungry to work with agencies again, we have to stop begging and remind ourselves that we are worth the prices we charge. Bad Times, Good Times Many agencies went through hard times in the late 2000s. I can still remember that sinking feeling when I couldn’t save a client or convert a prospect. I always worried I was going to lose a great employee because I wouldn’t have enough money to keep him or her on the payroll. I know you remember it, too. That drop in your stomach when the phone rang, knowing it was a client about to say he’s canceling his contract or she’s closing shop. Those sleepless nights spent wondering which person you would have to lay off if things didn’t pick up soon. I always felt like the next day would be better and business would pick up soon, but I (like many of us) learned how to be afraid. I spent a long time waiting for that better day to come, and only recently did I realize that the new era has already dawned on us -- and we never noticed until now. How Agencies Get Their Swagger Back The first step toward becoming a confident agency again is recognizing that things are much better today than they were seven years ago. That [...]

How to Make Your Company an Irreplaceable Partner in 3 Steps

Your company might think they’re building relationships with clients, but until they sink multiple hooks into an organization, the relationship is volatile. The deeper the connection with your customer, the longer it is likely to last. And, of course, losing existing relationships is costly, considering the second dollar you earn from a client is always more profitable than the first. In fact, the cost of acquiring new customers versus returning customers is six times higher. However, when you delight your clients, meet their needs and cultivate deep relationships, those clients will be happy to pay your prices. Why you need more connections If your sole contact leaves, who else in the company will understand your value? If the old contact wasn’t clearly explaining or documenting it, then your new contact might find it difficult to understand why your company and his should continue a relationship. And if only one person knows you and what you can do, other departments or leaders in the organization might hire someone else to do something you’re perfectly capable of. Additionally, spending time walking the halls of your client’s office could potentially lead to new work. Bumping into people and having conversations can easily lead to, “Can you help me out with this project?” For example, many agencies I work with regularly embed employees in their clients’ offices for a few days a week. That face time creates a depth of service and provides the chance to mine for new opportunities. It’s the ultimate in having multiple relationships. How to get in deeper If you find yourself with a single relationship within a company, the following tips can expand your influence and ensure you’re never left in the dust. 1. Get the [...]

How to Deal with the Nice Guy Client

Most agencies seek out the nice guy client to work with. They’re easygoing and don’t have many criticisms, which bolsters your ego. Plus, they’re often a steady source of income. But the “nice guys” aren’t always the best clients. I’ve seen an agency that thought it was getting along great with a client. The agency assumed the client was happy with the work it produced and began to make expansion plans with pay raises, increased staffing, and larger expenditures based on the assumption that the relationship would be ongoing. However, because the agency didn’t ask for real feedback and the client was silently underwhelmed, the agency was at risk of losing the “nice guy,” who had been shopping for a new agency. In my experience, clients sometimes vent their frustrations elsewhere, such as to their colleagues or their communities. And if a client isn’t being honest with you, the relationship can’t be strong or meaningful, which means you’re at risk every time another agency comes sniffing around. It’s always better for you to hear the criticism, respond, and take action to keep the customer. When you don’t have clear communication between your agency and the client, you put your business at risk. You’ll work more efficiently, the results will be better, and everyone will be happier if you’re communicating well with clients. Sometimes, fickle or difficult clients can be more profitable. They’re looking for specific expertise, and if you offer it, they’ll find you — rather then the other way around. Although these customers are a lot of work, they know what they want and are willing to pay for it. And their bigger budgets mean larger billings, more work and increased margins for you. How to Spot [...]