Client Relationships

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, [...]

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 [...]

7 Ways to Handle Unresponsive Clients

It’s inevitable: at some point, your client will give you the silent treatment. They probably don’t mean to make you blow steam from your ears -- it just happens -- and getting over the communication slump starts with walking a mile in their shoes. It’s important to remember that many companies are understaffed and stretched thin. And even though studies show that burnout is bad for business, we see it happen all the time. While it may be frustrating when you can’t get an answer from your client, it’s usually not the result of ill will or without reason. There’s a good chance your client lives in meetings for most of their days, leaving them with only a small window to take calls and answer emails. An empathic approach to your client relationships -- rather than an angry one -- will be better for both you and your client in the long run. Why Clients Go Dark There are several explanations for why your clients aren’t answering you. It could be as simple as email clutter. Haven’t we all tried to block off calendar time to clean out our inboxes, only to veer off course into this project or that phone call? We’re only human. Experts say you need an entire minute to recover from reading a single email. And at bare minimum, you’d need three hours a day dedicated only to reading and sending emails if you were to stay completely caught up on your inbox. Your client might not have the bandwidth to sift through their inbox every day. They could also be waiting on another department or team member to weigh in before they get back to you, and they just don’t [...]

The Fine Line Between Value-adds and Over-servicing Clients

One of the best compliments my agency ever received came from a client who said he never felt like we had our hand in his pocket. We were putting his interests ahead of our own, and that is usually the best way to build trust. Yet, as good as that comment made me feel, it wasn’t enough. Sure, it indicated we were satisfying our client, but if over-serviced clients are satisfied with your work, you may be in trouble. Clients don’t want to be “satisfied” with their marketing agencies. They want to be wowed. And that means they want to be over-serviced. But there’s a danger there, too. Offer too much, and you could be hurting your agency’s future. The Over-servicing Clients Tipping Point You need to over-deliver, but you and your employees should also remember you’re not running a charity. If over-servicing starts to eat through your profitability, you have a problem. It starts with your account executives. One of the most dangerous habits for any AE to develop is to think of themselves as a customer service rep rather than a business growth specialist. When that attitude spreads to the whole agency, you’ll start to see: Unrealistic expectations from your clients. If you always over-service a client, the marginal value of that effort will diminish. The client will become overly demanding and expect you to keep upping the ante, possibly expecting you to deliver work even faster, or at a significantly reduced cost. And those favors could hit your business hard. Low (or no) profitability. An agency client of mine worked with the same large client for years. They never modified their agreement, and after a few years, the agency was working for $40 an hour when most agencies were charging $150 an hour. The team was [...]

Do You Want More Clients? Guide Them to the Right Answer.

Today's post is a guest article by David J. P. Fisher. When thinking about how to sell their services, most agency owners think that they either have to pound relentlessly or wait patiently.  Either they send out tons of emails, make lots of calls, and attend every networking event in their area in an attempt to find business, or they "work by word of mouth" and take a passive approach, hoping that an existing client will email with a hot lead for them. And in both cases, they find themselves struggling. These days the sales process has changed.  Access to content online has put most of the buying process firmly in the hands of prospects and clients.  Information asymmetry, where sellers had more access than their prospects to insight and information, is a thing of the past.  If a potential client can get all the facts and figures they need from a 30-second Google search, why do they need you? If an agency owner relies on handing out information to “build value” for their customers, they will be in the passing lane on the road to obsolescence. As it is, people don't have the attention to spare to digest the information they have already.  It's hard for them to separate the useful facts from the overwhelming background noise. This "information overwhelm" opens up an opportunity.  Because there's more complexity, prospects have lots of information, but don't necessarily know how to translate that information into something that's usable and actionable. But you do. What customers are looking for more than ever is someone who can guide their decision-making.  Someone who can help them digest and navigate the overwhelming amount of data they have.  They need someone that they [...]

How to Utilize Innovation Initiatives to Inspire Your Clients and Your Team with Kris Hoet

In the research that AMI does every year, one of the things we hear is that clients are looking for agencies that can bring them fresh concepts, big ideas and innovative solutions. So, what do these kinds of innovation initiatives look like and how do agency owners inspire that kind of thinking inside their shop? My podcast guest Kris Hoet owns the international agency Happiness and is a master of innovation. He loves the idea of messy experimentation and really collaborating with clients on projects rather than following the same old templates over and over again. He’s been on both the client side and the agency side and sees how much good can come when you infuse your agency with collaborative, out of the box thinking.   Come along as Kris and I lay out a plan to help you inspire your team for this kind of action by learning:    Why Kris made the jump to the agency side — and why he started his own agency Innovation initiatives and driving change in every aspect of a company Why small changes across a company are better than one big change Getting ideas for change from other industries Some feeds that Kris follows to get inspiration Finding the time to focus on innovation and learning for learning’s sake while also running a client-driven profitable business Why everybody needs to be involved in an initiative Working in a messy way with these innovation initiatives and why that demands more trust between agency and client Why you can do this with your employees you have (if they’re actual good employees) How to inspire your team to want to innovate How to get innovation started Kris Hoet has [...]