Client Retention Strategies: Are You About to be Fired?

Client retention strategies are critical in your agency — especially considering one third of all advertising agency clients expect to change agencies within the next 12 months.

Let me rephrase that for you — one third of all clients are going to FIRE their current agency within the next 12 months.  Do you think that your marketing agency is the exception to this rule? Are you 110% confident that every client you have can’t imagine doing business without you?

Here are the big reasons clients cite for making the change:

  • A leadership shift within the client (usually at the CMO or Director of Marketing position)
  • Frustrating business results
  • Can’t track, monitor or proof any progress
  • The core relationship between the agency and client is strained
  • Agency performance is underwhelming
  • Agency never brings us new/fresh ideas
  • Agency was gung ho to get us, now we’re just one of many

And the #1 reason among those — the last one.  They don’t feel courted anymore.  They’re not your special, most favorite client.

So I am point blank asking you: hey advertising agency — are you about to be fired?  How do you know? Do you have any client retention strategies in place?

How do you know if your relationships are at risk?  Here are a couple ideas.

Here are a couple of ideas to consider as part of client retention.

Ask.  I know it sounds simplistic but when was the last time you had lunch or a drink with a client and just asked for honest feedback?  Don’t do it over the phone, over email or for the love of Pete, over a text.  Set up a specific meeting just for this conversation. Give them some feedback on how you think it’s going and then ask.  Odds are you will get a superficial answer at first so you’re going to have to probe to get real feedback.

Sometimes — you just asking is enough to repair the relationship.  At the end of the day, they want to know they’re important to you.

Hire someone else to ask: We do a lot of client satisfaction surveys for agencies concerned about client retention. Why?  Even if they’re about to fire you, they still don’t want to hurt your feelings.  So they’ll tell you some surface things but won’t really be completely honest.  The added benefit of confidentiality can also increase the odds that you’re going to actually hear what you need to hear. We do both qualitative and quantitative so we can give you both data and anecdotal feedback.

Best of all, we can show you where you rank in comparison to the other agencies’ results (blind of course…everything we do is confidential) so you can see how you stack up.

Whether you do it yourself or you hire someone to survey your clients — there are some incredible benefits beyond just avoiding being fired!  I’ve never seen an agency do a client satisfaction survey that did not result in some changes in how they did business.  So every client relationship benefits from the results. You’ll also find your clients have a renewed love for you (sort of like going on a 2nd honeymoon!) and referrals and letters of reference come out of nowhere.

With these kinds of client retention strategies, your billings usually will take a bump up as well.  Why? You’ve reenergized the relationship and renewed the faith they have in you. So you get more work. Better than bigger billings — your profits will also increase. You are going to learn things from the survey that allow you to work smarter, faster and better. Which means more money for you at the end of the day.

Whether you are at risk of losing a client or not — everyone wants to feel appreciated and valued. There’s no better way to do that than to say, “we really value our relationship and love working with you. We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help you accomplish your goals and feel good about the work we’re doing together. How are we doing at that?”