It costs far more to win a new client than it does to keep an existing one. Agencies tend to think that as long as Client Service has a good relationship with the client and the advertising is delivering against the specified objectives and KPIs, then everything's good, right?
It's true that clients value performance above almost everything else, but it's also true that every other agency they run into or speak with promises the same performance you're providing. So it makes sense to stack the deck in your favor whenever you can. After all, the adage about relationships holds true in advertising as well; "Why go out for hamburger when you've got steak at home?".
Celebrate Your Relationship
When you're pitching a client's business, it's like you're dating. Everyone is at their very best. You're super kind and considerate to each other, only the best and the brightest are in the room and the work is flawless. Then you win the account and the teams change. That Product Manager who was so kind and complimentary grows fangs and starts drawing blood with every email. It turns out that the client's definition of "scope" is far more "fluid" than the agency's. And all that talk about how important communication will be starts to turn into strategies to prevent Ghosting. In short, you start to live in the chaos of each other's businesses.
It's often for those reasons that the agency starts to have the mindset of; "They're lucky to have us!" instead of "We're lucky to be working with them!". Not surprisingly, this is the same mindset at the root of many divorces of married couples.
Which is why it's so important to let your clients know that you appreciate them - not just their business. One great way is to take a page out of the Happy Marriages book and make a big deal out of your Anniversary. Just like a wedding anniversary, it's not about how much it costs, it's about the thought that goes into it. In truth, just making a big deal about the date in any sort of way will be a positive for the relationship, but it also gives you the chance to mix business with pleasure and set up a review that talks about how great things have gone over the year, how well the teams have worked together and how awesome the future will be - followed by some sort of celebration and social mixer. This isn't the time to address thorny issues. Leave that to your quarterly reviews or some other time. Treat this like you would a wedding anniversary. Nothing but joy, sweetness and authentic gratitude for the relationship.
Some of the best clients actually get in on the game and set up an annual trade-off, meaning that the agency organizes the Anniversary one year, and the client organizes the Anniversary the next year. Those are the best types of circumstances, but in common practice, it generally falls to the agency to make the Anniversary happen (or not).
Celebrate Their Wins
Product launches, major feature upgrades and new service introductions can be extremely stressful for clients and can put everyone on edge. Many times, the agency is part of the stress by applying pressure around publishing deadlines and advertising deliverables tied to the events.
When the product, service or feature finally launches, the agency has a golden opportunity to let the clients know they're appreciated by celebrating with them. Whether that takes the form of celebratory cookie bouquets, champagne or a team dinner, it's a chance to emphasize the positives of working together and accomplishing something that everyone feels good about. The team that celebrates together creates memories that help it weather tough times later.
Admit it - we all love swag. We can't help it. And the cooler the swag, the more we love it. Agencies have the ability to create the coolest swag around. What creative team wouldn't love the challenge of custom designing an agency T-shirt that will be distributed to clients? Or a hat? Or a coffee mug? There are literally thousands of swag options available (sorry, the correct term is "promotional items") and agencies don't leverage this stuff for their own good.
Not only do agency employees love wearing stuff with the agency's name on it, but clients do too! And guess what? They'll wear that stuff to conferences, events, etc. and literally be a walking billboard for the agency. It's priceless advertising. All you have to do is make the swag cool enough to wear. Yes, this stuff costs money to make, but you'll be hard pressed to find a comparable ROI when it comes to the long term advertising effect for the agency and the goodwill that stuff generates with clients. But proceed with caution. Cheap swag can do more harm than good, so swag wisely.
Listen to Them
Last but definitely not least is to have an open line of communication with your clients that not only listens to, but encourages feedback on how the agency can be servicing their account better. Everything from new services to reconfigured processes should be on the table and open for discussion. As in any relationship, both parties change as they age and so do their needs. Make sure your clients know that the agency is open to changing with them and actively seeking ways of doing things better, smarter, faster, cheaper. Many of the best improvements in Advantage's AQUA agency management software were suggested by customers and have led to significant growth in new customers as a result. Customer-driven innovation is an incredibly valuable competitive advantage and every agency should be encouraging as much of it as possible. Not to mention how appreciated it makes your clients feel.
Accounts are hard to come by and hard to hold on to. Too often the stories that surround accounts are filled with negativity and hostility. Change that dynamic by implementing a Customer Appreciation strategy and start filling those narratives with celebrations, shared wins and new product development. It's a win-win for everyone.
Show your own employees how much you appreciate them by implementing an agency management system that integrates Project Management, Accounting and Media into one powerful, automated solution and is constantly adding even more features and functionality based on the innovative ideas of agencies like yours. Schedule a free demo today and see what we're talking about.