Happy clients equals happy agency

I was invited by Keene to talk at one of their regular ‘brown bag’ lunches recently. Apparently, they’re common in the US, where PR agencies invite guest speakers in to meet their staff and present while everyone eats their lunch. (A little off-putting, but heh!)

Simon invited me to talk to his staff about my experiences as a brand manager, where I had been responsible for managing lots of agencies, and to explain what my likes and dislikes were. Having told the team, it made sense to put my thoughts down in words.

So here are my ten tips to keeping clients. If anyone knows of any more, feel free to send them to me.

  1. Keeping your clients happy is central to building a successful agency. Everything (and I mean everything), is secondary to this.
  2. If you say you’ll do something, do it. The biggest bugbear of any client is non delivery.
  3. You’ll win our undying gratitude (and so more business) if you can make our lives just that bit easier. The opposite is true too. So if you present us with a problem…
  4. We’d rather they didn’t, but mistakes do happen. It’s how you then handle them that determines whether you can keep our business. Be honest. Be open and be contrite. On no account attempt to pass the buck. Try it and see what happens.
  5. We know you’re under pressure to grow your business, but please, only suggest ideas to us that you know will work and that you can handle. Watching agencies over-reach themselves is a favourite sport  of in-house marketers.
  6. Of course we want and love creativity, but if it’s a toss up between that or something that will get results, then it’s no contest. Ideally we want both, that’s why we’re called clients.
  7. Try to make a real effort to understand our business and what make us tick. And then customise your proposition to meet our specific needs. ‘One size fits all’ ideas are like suits bought off the peg; they don’t fit properly and soon wear out.
  8. You simply can’t go over budget without warning us and expect to still be paid. Not ever. Under any circumstance. Full stop.
  9. We understand that people move on, but expect us to be upset when the account handler that we like working with – and have invested our time in – is replaced by a numpty.
  10. We’re well aware who does most of the work in the agency, so tell your boss to stay in the office. On no account let him or her pitch creative ideas to us without another member of the team being present. Although tell us and we’ll send you a video so you can have a laugh at Christmas.

Our guest blogger, Russell Soden, is now a business development consultant.  His website is www.russellsodenconsulting.com

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