Tip Tuesday: Five Simple Steps to Cultivate Client Partnerships

Tip Tuesday: Five Simple Steps to Cultivate Client Partnerships

More than 35 years in the agency business has taught me that the best thing you can do for your company is building solid relationships with your clients. Your relationships with your clients are the foundation of your professional reputation.

It’s not an easy task. Nor is it something for which there are shortcuts. It’s not as simple as just doing good work—there’s a lot of talented designers and creators out there, but not all of them are capable of making that leap.

To transcend the vendor label, you need to truly establish a partnership with your clients. This means you fully understand their value proposition, aspirations and role in the marketplace.

It takes time and effort to build great relationships with your clients but once you do your work will be better, your impact on their business will improve and you’ll enjoy your collaboration more.

Not to mention the fact that you’ll hold on to your best clients and be able to get new ones via word-of-mouth.

Commexis Tip Tuesday - Client Partnerships

Here are five simple steps to cultivate a collaborative relationship with your clients:

  1. Redefine Your Relationship.
    Agencies aren’t commodities, they’re strategic partners. If a client feels the agency is truly invested in their success, they’re far more likely to continue the business relationship. A healthy client-agency relationship is built on mutual respect and trust. And trust is built on meeting (and exceeding) the client’s expectations for both service and results.
  2. Clarify Expectations Early
    Defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your campaign early on will provide metrics that make it easier for your agency to demonstrate success. You can’t provide outstanding service if the baseline is never set. Likewise, the agency should set client expectations. Effectively communicating workflow processes, timelines and deliverables, as well as explaining SEO tactics and results in fewer headaches and less confusion for reporting progress.
  3. Spend Time With Your Clients
    When you’re first getting to know a client, find out everything you can about them and their business. You want to identify what makes them tick. Don’t just learn about what your client does now–find out what the long-term goals are for their business. Not only will this help identify audiences and marketing personas in the short-term, it also allows for a more aspirational mindset. Expect growth and plan for it.
    Connecting with clients on a personal level will add insight to how they perceive their brand. A deep understanding of the brand’s value proposition offers invaluable insight for messaging and design. Clients should respect the expertise offered by the agency, and trust that their marketing direction is in the best interest of their business and their values.
  4. Honesty Is Always the Best Policy
    Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. A deadline is missed or a typo sneaks through and you’re worried that it will ruin the relationship with the client. In this situation it can be tempting to lie, or not to tell the whole truth. You messed up and you don’t want to diminish your customer’s respect for you by admitting to it.
    But the exact opposite is true. A customer will respect you more for admitting to your mistakes and fixing them than they will if you aren’t 100 percent honest.
    If your client is unhappy and you deal with the situation honestly and helpfully, converting them back to a happy customer, they will be twice as likely to tell others about your great service
  5. Do Clients Occasional Favors
    Clients pay the bills. They hire you to do a job for them, hopefully on an ongoing basis, and then they pay you for it. But if you want to build strong client relationships, sometimes it’s a good idea to do some work for free. This will build loyalty and make you stand out from your money-grubbing competition. Just don’t be tempted to do it too often. Your service has a value and offering it for free can dilute the perceived value.

Vendors come and go. Partners grow with their brands. A collaborative relationship between agency and client will always result in better work because both parties are invested in each other’s success.

Don’t be a vendor. Be a partner!

Peace, Love and Digital,

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Anthony Finuoli

Anthony Finouli is Commexis’ Senior VP of Creative. He has over 30 years’ experience in advertising and design for both large and small agencies / design firms.

Emails you will look forward to.

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