In the fast-paced industry we live in, agencies and clients don’t have time to celebrate accomplishments. We work hard, day after day, to make sure we meet deadlines, keep budgets under control and schedule meetings, without really stopping to pat ourselves or our clients on the back.
One of the best ways to build relationships with clients is to make it a point to celebrate accomplishments great or small. Personal accomplishments in the client’s life, including birthdays, baby showers and promotions, should be acknowledged. At SJG, we recently threw our client a baby shower lunch that included a small present for the baby and mom. Our client was overwhelmed and extremely grateful. Clients don’t typically think that their agency will take the time to celebrate an accomplishment that means so much to them in their personal life but has no bearing on daily business.
Business accomplishments should also be celebrated, such as advertising campaign launches and awards. Clients don’t typically get an opportunity to celebrate their work. Agency staff that works behind the scenes and contributes to a campaign’s development may not have an opportunity to see the outcome of their work. Therefore, getting agency staff from diverse areas (media, planning, research, production and creative) and the client in the same room for a toast to their coordinated efforts goes a long way in team building.
Involving Them in the Creative Process
Our clients hire us to develop culturally relevant creative concepts. Due to their tight calendars they are typically not involved in the creative development process. Providing the client an opportunity to have a hand in the birth of a creative concept that then evolves into a successful advertising campaign provides fulfillment to the client, and in many times speeds up the approval process for the agency.
Including clients in the process can be as simple as inviting them to internal agency creative kick-off meeting and pre-production meeting, and having them attend the TV shoot. Our American Family Insurance client could not attend a recent TV shoot in Mexico due to her schedule, and was very disappointed. We took pictures, purchased small gifts from Mexico and packaged it all in a care box for our client. It highlighted that even though she was not at the shoot, we were thinking of her.
Wine and Dine Them
Remember the good old days of the advertising world? Back when account service staff would take two hour lunches with the client? Who says those days should be long gone? Granted, we currently find ourselves in tough economic times. What this should mean for agencies is not to scale back your interaction with your clients. On the contrary – during the race to the bottom to cut back ever-shrinking budgets, the only ammunition we have is building strong relationships.
We hold quarterly lunches with all of our clients. These lunches are used to get to know our clients on a personal level. We also have holiday parties that allow senior staff on the agency and client side to celebrate a year’s worth of work and talk about the upcoming year.
Strong client relationships are what count when facing business obstacles. Yes, our clients hired our agency for our strategic Hispanic marketing expertise. But our agency is made up of people and if our clients don’t love working with our people then our business relationship is bound to fail. The account team’s goal is to be seen as our client’s trusted advisors, part of their team and nice people that they love to work with.