Congratulations, your agency just won the pitch you’ve all worked so hard on, and while you’re probably in a celebratory mood right now, you also know that the hard work’s just begun. Soon the first meetings, briefs, and projects will come your way, and you’ll meet and get to know the people working on the client’s side — the people with whom you’ll interact on a regular basis from that point on.
The foundation of a solid advertising or digital agency lies in its ability to create constructive relationships with clients. Mutual respect, open communication and transparent collaboration are essential elements to build a great relationship with clients. How can you get things started on the right foot with your client? Kick things off by treating the client like a partner and not an adversary. Let go of the “them vs. us” mindset and focus on building a long-lasting relationship built on trust and a collaborative mindset.
While a strong client-agency relationship might not always be established overnight, there are some key ground rules to follow to ensure a smooth and amicable partnership.
Well begun is half done, and when you meet your new client for the first time, establishing a few ground rules is essential to building an open and transparent rapport. Make sure the first conversation is about defining the client’s objectives and KPIs for the various projects on the roadmap. Make sure to also set and suggest realistic deadlines and a retro-planning for each project, so that the client can have full visibility of what they can expect from the agency side. For instance, how much time would it take to submit the first set of visuals? The first draft for copy ideas? How much time can be expected from each resource per day or per week? Establish everything from the get-go, as a foundation for a solid collaboration for months or years to come.
For an agency, a product is a source of creative inspiration to ideate new material. For the client, the material developed for the brand and the product(s) has to perform on the market. They need to reach customers and stand out from the competition. Not only must the product be highlighted in the communication, but it must persuade potential customers that it will fulfill their needs and desires. Getting a feel for the product and what it represents is key to connecting with the client. For example, if your client sells hiking gear, get to know the product inside out. Learn about the technology behind it, the features, the lifestyle it aims to convey, and the values it should communicate. Explore the industry, the competitors, and the positioning of your client’s product and brand, and you’ll not only be able to develop better, more fitting creative concepts, but you will also be able to develop a stronger kinship and a bond with your client as you’ll understand where they’re coming from.
Good communication is a skill that can be developed and improved on just like any other skill. When communicating with clients there are several ways to build strong channels to ensure clear and open communication. First of all, touching base regularly is key to nurturing a solid and communicative relationship. Keeping a weekly status update call is a great way to keep the client informed about the work in progress. Use the status update calls to ask and answer the clients’ questions. Keep them informed and updated about the work in progress, and make sure the content in development proceeds as agreed by both parties. In other words do not press forward in a completely different direction, which would only lead to misunderstandings and delays in the final delivery of the material!
Instead of thinking of the agency-client relationship as an ordinary transaction, think about it as a collaborative process, in which both parties need something out of the relationship. After all, both the client and the agency work towards the same common goal: to create outstanding communication material, whether it’s an advertising campaign, a monthly update of e-commerce webpages, or a social media editorial plan.
Fortunately, there are many ways to get clients involved and invite them to keep track of the creative process. For visual asset creation, for example, BOOM Worksite is designed to make collaboration with clients a lot easier. When you open a new workroom for a project, you can decide to grant collaboration access to anyone in your circle, including creative team members — the graphic designer to develop visual assets, the copywriter to add accompanying copy in the comment section, the account managers to assign tasks — as well as clients. Worksite users can of course manage permission settings, and let clients access only the visuals that concern them. Let the clients brief visual designers on which visuals must be included in the next campaign, and which images should be deleted. Get them to participate in the creative process by accessing resources directly in the workrooms, and ultimately making the entire collaboration much more efficient.
Feedback is a gift (it really is!) and in order to create the best material possible, it is important to request or give feedback. Encourage your client to use the workroom’s features specifically designed for feedback, including a tool to either reject or approve visuals submitted for review, a tool to request changes on material, and the possibility to comment and mention specific team members. The agency can also create specific folders within the workroom, specifically meant for the client’s final review and approval. Remember that while clients have the final word on published material, agencies must always keep their role as consultants, and use the workrooms’ various communication tools to justify their choices and explain their vision as clearly as possible.
Nothing can help manage a strong client-agency relationship like digital tools aimed to optimize communication and collaboration. Interested in giving Worksite a try and testing the workrooms?