Running a marketing firm of any size is a juggling act.

client retention

Don’t get caught up in the never ending swirl of work.

Not only are you working on several different client/agency initiatives at any given time, but you’ve got projects from several different clients as well. Often competing client conflicts will drive staff and leadership crazy. Starting a new project vs. finishing another, the clients all the while breathing down your neck claiming “I need it yesterday!” All this and more adds to the already chaotic work environment and makes organizational planning a difficult task.

Prioritizing your clients may help you and your team to keep focused on the most important work at hand; keeping the clients you truly need happy and growing the ones that you can.

Retention Planning First Step: Prioritize Clients


Sun clients are essential to the agency. Without these clients, the agency might cease to exist. Sun clients provide warmth, nourishment and energy to the agency. Sun clients allow the agency to do good work and take chances. Sun clients are to be retained and protected.



Planet clients should be very profitable to the agency. These clients should operate with very little support from agency senior management and should sustain life pretty much on their own. Planet clients should be protected but may not be essential to the agency’s existence. Planets by definition have little opportunity for real growth and cannot ever be Suns in the opinion of agency management. Planet clients should be worked with minimal agency investment in resources and must have limited impact on senior management time.


black holeBlack Holes:

Black Hole clients suck up a lot of agency energy and give little in return. These types of clients often overuse creative services and account management time without fair compensation. Black Hole clients should be dropped by the agency at the first opportunity. Black Hole clients often represent lost causes. Their impact on the agency should be minimized.


ac002-cometShooting Stars:

Shooting Stars are unknowns to the agency. Their path is not clear. Shooting Star clients could be Suns, Planets or Black Holes. It is the responsibility of the agency to ensure a Shooting Star client is transformed into either a Planet or a Sun. If this client cannot be transformed into a Sun or Planet, then that client is a Black Hole the agency should plan to eventually drop. Shooting Stars are most often new clients moving through the agency. Their long-term trajectory has not been established. Shooting Stars need more management time and require more agency resources if they are going to become Suns and Planets. Shooting Stars take up a lot of agency effort and must be watched closely.

The Goal: A Winning Working Environment.

What clients want from agencies are ideas to make their businesses grow. What agencies want from clients are opportunities to do great work and be fairly paid for their contribution to clients’ businesses. It is impossible for either of these to happen without “chemistry” among both parties. In order to obtain chemistry, an environment must be created that will breed success. It is the responsibility of agencies to create this environment.

Great chemistry helps make things happen and will create a more positive reaction to your ideas. A well trained account service person should always be prepared with relevant topics, points of view and issues that flatter the client and demonstrate interest and imagination. In advance prepare some BBIs, VABs, or VASs. Get ready to introduce these to stimulate the conversation. Insights are best when relevant to their consumers, their industry or their operations.

The purpose of our High Gear Training is to help agencies create this environment to keep clients and do great work. The natural temptation is to treat all clients casually, with no planned approach – don’t fall into that trap.


 Photo by HenryNine