How To Nuture Client-Agency Relationships

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Can you imagine getting dumped after 91 years with someone?

Without so much as a telephone call?

That’s what happened to Publicis Groupe, the agency that General Motors had used for nearly a century before abandoning it in 2010. And guess what? Now, merely four years later, GM isn’t happy with their new agency.

Talk about fragile client-agency relationships.

According to The Bedford Group, a search consultancy out of Atlanta, the average client-agency tenure today is less than three years. It used to be more than 7. Ian Lurie, CEO of Portent, suggests that churn is as much as 85%, going from honeymoon to ho hum in less than 2 years. That’s about the average life span of a marketing director job.

Why are these shifts happening?

“As an industry, it feels like we have lost sight of what it means to have a relationship. I see three things that really get in the way. Time, technology and trust.” — Elizabeth Zea of Juel Consulting, in an interview with AdAge.

Time Starved and Stressed Out?

In a relationship, when the person you love needs to talk about something truly important, you make the effort to focus. You put down your phone, close your computer, turn off the television. Forget about multitasking. They demand your full attention no matter how busy you are. You give it because you care (or because there’ll be an argument if you don’t.)

The same is true for clients. Although there are times when you can (literally) phone it in, there are other times when they crave your full attention. They want to feel that you care about them and their business. If they don’t, resentment builds up, and it won’t be long until you’re out the door.

Finding time to nurture client relationships is a must. Raven’s marketing software frees up valuable time for those important conversations. Instead of spending hours on research or building reports, you can invest time in building client good will.

Technology: Savior or Crutch?

Technology can buy you time, but you’ll want to spend it wisely.

For many digital marketing agencies, technology has become a crutch. Technology helps us crunch numbers, but data points don’t provide insight. People do.

While tools let you slice and dice your research any number of ways, analyzing data requires self control. Otherwise, you can lose perspective. An over reliance on data and you risk missing real world insight that would strengthen your strategy and your client relationships.

Online marketers must provide that real world, strategic insight to their clients. They can’t rely solely on sending automated monthly reports with no context. That’s why it’s so important to know when and how to use the Executive Summary when reporting to clients. Numbers without context will only annoy people, so make sure your account executives know exactly what’s important to highlight.

For strong client relationships, your reports should:

  • Focus on strategic opportunities
  • Be unique to your client’s needs
  • Include custom metrics that demonstrate what’s important to an evolving strategy

Raven’s soon-to-be-released reporting engine will give you the flexibility of mashing up 370 metrics! Each report you create will be as unique as a fingerprint. You’ll be able to pull live data, crafting that report as you go and customizing it in a way that supports your well thought out strategy.

Where Did the Trust Go?

In today’s “always on” communication channels, subtleties often get lost when corresponding via email, text or chat versus over the phone or in person. Add in the complexity of multiple points of contact within an agency, and a client can get lost in the shuffle.

Fortunately, Raven software lets you email your fully custom report to multiple recipients, establishing consistent communication before your next face-to-face meeting. Your client can trust that your team is always in sync.

If your perceived value declines over time, it’s because you haven’t taken the time to reinforce your value at every opportunity. Nurturing business relationships takes the same care and attention as any other relationship you value.

It’s never the big blow up that ends a relationship (or marriage); it’s missing the small opportunities that make another person feel special. A strong client-agency relationship depends on consistent behavior. When the client comes to expect those constants — regular reports, insightful recommendations, creative ideas — then you’ve built a trusted relationship that can last.

You’ve built a relationship that can withstand the shifting sands of today’s consumer behavior.

Photo credits: Featured image – schoey via Compfight cc