One vital ingredient that is required to keep all relationships (personal or business) strong is the investment of time.
Investing time into your client relationships will enable you to:
Time investment can be achieved through phone calls, emails, and meetings. Meeting in person is the most effective form of relationship-building, followed by phone calls, followed lastly by written communication (such as emails).
The question then becomes, how often should you contact your clients, and is there a line between contacting just enough, and too much?
There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for maintaining contact with clients - what is annoying for one client is loved by another. One may love to chat on the phone, whilst another prefers email. One may want a daily check-in, whilst another finds too much communication irritating.
It's also important to remember that advertising and promotion is usually only a very small part of your client's overall responsibility and attention. Therefore, your job is to find out the type of communication and frequency that suits their workload. The best way to do this is to simply ask them - especially right at the beginning of the relationship.
Is your client on an agency retainer, or do they give you work on a sporadic project-by-project basis?
It is just as important for both your retainer and non-retainer clients to feel love from their agency. For project-based clients you need to be more intentional with your contact, especially as it is unlikely that you'll have regular WIP (work in progress) sessions or project/account review opportunities.
When you have a live project, you will want to stay in regular contact in order to keep the project ticking along smoothly. When there is no live project, then phoning your client at least once a month is vital to keep on their radar and to see if there is anything coming up that you can help with.
Clients who pay an agency retainer will want to feel like they are getting a lot of value for their money. One way to show value is through your time, presence and communication.
You will probably have a weekly WIP meeting in which you can go through every job, plus talk about upcoming projects, what's going on within your client's business, competitor activity, etc.
You should also conduct a half-yearly or annual review. This is where you review the work your agency has completed to date, and the effectiveness of each campaign. These results are then measured against your retainer agreement to ensure both parties are happy, and that the retainer is working for everyone. It is also an opportunity to set goals for the upcoming year and develop an annual plan.
In between times you may also choose to run monthly or quarterly reviews with your client - especially if their requirements are particularly large, complex and/or demanding.
The best way to keep client-fires burning is to diarise when and who you contact. If you have a CRM system, you can easily set a reminder against each client. If you do not have a CRM system, then you can use your to-do list or Microsoft Outlook reminders.
It is a big mistake to become complacent with your clients and let communication slip. Just because they have worked with you before, does not mean they will choose to work with you again. Remaining top-of-mind is crucial for ensuring repeat business and revenue for your agency, and that responsibility is most firmly in your hands!
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