Shift your account management team into high gear and grow your ad agency.

grow your clients

Shift your account management team into High Gear!

Over the past few years we’ve been lucky to have worked with many creative firms, both small and large, and they all share the same problem: How to get more value/recognition/reward for what we do for clients? How can you grow your clients?

The Old Way:

Ad agencies grew organically on the basis of getting clients to buy more services from within their wheel-house. This is a “value-added” approach that is aggravating to many clients. And it’s lost power in the market place. You know what Value Added is. Like my ads? Then buy my PR! Like my PR? Then buy my direct! These are called Value Added Services or VAS. Clients are increasingly resistant to this expected approach.

New Approach:

Agencies have many opportunities to develop high-value solutions for existing clients called Business Building Ideas (BBI) and Value-Based Initiatives (VBI). These contribute to the success of the client’s business. BBIs are simple to understand, but VBIs often create confusion with our client-agencies. That’s because VBIs are operational in nature, and are often process focused. VBI’s go after what’s on the client’s desk that’s really troubling them. These Value-Based Initiatives are built around learning how to explore client needs, problems, or requirements.

The primary skill that generates new ideas for VBI’s consists of listening and that means knowing what questions to ask, and just as important, questions not to ask. VBI’s are often the small things that trouble clients like improving their way of working. For example, helping them manage projects inside their world better with an online traffic system, or getting worldwide approvals under control. Or in one classic example finding a way to help the client get home earlier each day so he could see his children.

Account managers with a VBI take control of these problems for clients, offer solutions and solve the problems on a consultative arrangement. Usually fee-based and calculated by the time and effort required.

VBI’s add up quickly and the revenue drops to the bottom line. And not only do they add additional revenue to the firm, but VBI’s increase overall client satisfaction. Time for another example.

VBIs Grow Your Clients.

We were working with a very nice design firm, who had a golden client. After we finished working with them to help re-brand, we were chatting about the business. The owner showed me a beautiful packaging design they had just completed, and were taking it up to the client for final review. So of course we asked what the next steps were. The account director said the client would send the new design around the world to get the product adapted by 6 local design firms and then have it printed in the different countries for local use.

When asked how that would work, the account director said it was a mess and was driving the client crazy. All the local firms changed the final design to “make it fit for their country” and messed the look and feel, the overall branding, totally up.

We suggested that this was a perfect VBI.

The account director was instructed to ask the client if the design firm could help coordinate the process around the world. The client was thrilled and asked, “Would you do this for me?”

Within 10 days, the nice little design firm account director was visiting six local firms in different parts of the globe and helping them adjust the design for their local markets. He enforced the design standards and made it all work.

The client was so pleased with the results that she asked if the design firm would now do the same for her six ad agencies operating around the world. Would they, could they please help her get them in step with the brand directives that he understood so well? Of course our design firm agreed and took the challenge.

The client was thrilled again. Think that helped client retention? And did the design firm make a nickel or two on it? Did all that new revenue drop to the bottom line? You bet. That’s the power of a VBI. Something we teach in our High Gear Account Management Training Program.


Photo Credit, David Niblack,