Isn’t time to revisit your agency-client relationship, or why don’t you bring me flowers anymore?

fix Agency Client Relationship

Have your clients lost that loving feeling?

In the old days, it was easy: win the account, work hard and make money. Today having good clients may not be enough. For some reason, more and more agencies are finding themselves with great clients but still losing money. It’s easy for everyone to blame the clients. After all, they’re asking for more and paying less. The pressure has never been greater.

The problem however, might not be your clients. It could be you. Keeping the agency-client relationship fresh is difficult in the best of times. Like any relationship there can be highs and lows. And sometimes there is a feeling of drifting apart. Great clients are often made unprofitable at an agency because of a lack of account leadership, too little planning, missed opportunities, staff workloads and poor allocation of resources. The good news there are steps you can take to keep the relationship strong.

Below are 10 checks to make sure you are doing everything you can to maximize your agency-client relationships:

  1. Check your leadership style. Some styles are better at retaining clients than others. But it’s really about making choices on what you value as important.
  2. Look at your client retention culture. Does your firm work to keep clients or do they treat clients as interruptions?
  3. Examine your client chemistry. Does your firm know how to achieve a good relationship with clients? Have you made that an important focus of management attention? Or does your staff focus instead on the tasks at hand?
  4. Clarify account service responsibilities. Under-delegation is a systemic problem at most agencies. Do you have your A people doing B work and your B people doing C work? That’s a killer.
  5. Take more Business-Building Ideas (BBIs) to clients. It’s what they want and value most, strategic thinking and ideas. And they want one at least every month. Most agencies aren’t set up to create these for their clients.
  6. Offer more Value-Based Initiatives (VBIs). Does your firm work to do only what is assigned, such as developing marketing communications, or do they have the skills to offer VBIs on those things that trouble clients the most? Like daily organizational problems and conditions that drive clients crazy.
  7. Formalize client retention planning. Are your largest clients handled with a written 18-month client retention plan in place that shows the steps necessary to bond them to your agency for a long time?
  8. Use client report cards. It’s a simple but very effective tool. Mix that with “Quality Control Phone Surveys” conducted every year by outside professionals your clients will trust, and you’ll have a very effective early-warning system in place.
  9. Become more strategic. Offer a unique research process that identifies the “best” strategies, positioning, tag line, etc. to present to clients. This is a way to validate your thinking and offer insights into their overall brand.
  10. Think about restructuring account service. Consider the move to project managers and account strategists. It’s a lower cost way of operating, and it gives clients more face time with your firm.

How We Can Help Client Retention

Trying to fix the old relationship model hasn’t and won’t work because the current environment is a generation removed from that for which the old model was designed. High Gear, a one-day workshop from Sanders Consulting Group, shows agencies how to shift the direction of the agency-client relationship from the current paradigm of agency as vendor to the new direction of agency as trusted advisor. Or just put a bit a spice back in the relationship.


Photo by Neurotrash