You and your clients - a sticky business
There is a popular phrase that refers to an agency as being "an extension of a client's marketing team." That is certainly a status that every agency would love to attain, as it makes the agency/client relationship more ‘sticky’ (and harder to separate). Therefore your goal is to become so important to your client, to the point where they feel like you are an essential part of their team and couldn't possibly conduct their business without you.
To do this you need to find the special value you can bring to the relationship that will help you to be perceived as indispensable. You'll need to get to know your client very well - his (or her) strengths and weaknesses, his likes and dislikes, and his business needs.
Building a deep level of trust with your client is one of the best ways to make your sticky relationship stickier. The deeper you go on a trust level, the more your client will divulge to you, and the more you can help his business.
Clients are savvier these days than they ever have been before. Not only is he probably very well-educated, he is constantly bombarded by information, and can source what he doesn't know with one search query. What he can't do is manufacture more time.
Clients are busy people. Often a client will know exactly how to execute something, but he doesn't have the time to do it, therefore alleviating his time pressures will be thankfully received.
Your client may have a lot of head knowledge about what an agency does, but he will be lacking in practical experience. He hasn't got the time or inclination to learn to do what you do, so this is your chance to shine. You'll need to work out the type of service and expertise that your client will find the most valuable and concentrate on delivering impressive results.
Deliver the data
Another way to increase stickiness is to supply and interpret data. Your client will value stats, graphs, analytics and any information that will bring insight and clarity to what he is doing and help him to do his job better.
Your client (who is, perhaps, a Marketing or Brand Manager) may well be a solitary team of one brain - possibly two if he is lucky to have an offsider. He may be incredibly smart, but even smart brains need collaboration to explore all the options and come to the best creative and/or business conclusion. An agency can offer additional brainpower for the client who wants to be able to do it all but knows he can't.
Agencies are all about ideas and how to execute them. Some clients would consider themselves ‘creatively-inclined’, and like to contribute to the creative process wherever possible. Other clients are quite happy to sit back and bask in your agency's creative genius without too much interference. Either way, your agency has been engaged to supply top-notch strategic thinking and creative output, designed to complement your client's marketing strategy and achieve results. If you can consistently prove your creative worth, you'll have a great chance at building a long-term, sticky business relationship.
You'll never know all of your client's business better than your client, but you can certainly become knowledgeable about parts of their business, including their marketing and communication needs. You can also become an expert about your client's customers - their personalities, lifestyles, consumer behaviour and requirements.
Your client has to really like you. The more they like you, the tougher it will be for them to find another agency. This friendship has to be genuine (never forced) and always honest.
It’s super-tough to turn your back on someone you trust, rely on, respect, and like. Your goal is to make it as difficult as possible for your client to ever want to say “goodbye” to your agency, or contemplate working with anyone else; therefore, the stickier you can possibly make your agency/client relationship, the better!
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