Was meeting with a prospect here at RSW/US the other week and as we talked about the potential of a relationship together, he said that he’s been in relationships before with his own clients where they hired him (the dog) and then proceeded to do their own barking….and talked about how he did not want to do that with us (if he hired us).
While I know it’s hard to do (tell your clients that they need to listen)…you need to tell your clients that they need to listen – but in the same vein – you need to provide the value.
The #1 reason clients say they look for new agencies is because they lack strategic thinking capacity (or have run out of steam).
The #2 reason most often is they feel their agency is not proactive.
You are hired for your expertise so bring it to the table, make your client feel like you’re indispensable, and then when you feel like they’re trying to drive the train, remind them why you’ve been hired.
Now certainly not saying never listen to a client’s counsel.
Just saying that I’ve seen it all too often where agencies become order takers – and that’s simply no fun for an agency.
You need to try your best to lay it out upfront (even before you bring the client on board) in terms of how you operate and how you can bring value.
Share examples of relationships you have with other clients and how these relationships benefited them.
In our world, many agency principals will think that things like “you can work with the principals” and “we are highly strategic” and “we operate from concept to creation” are uniquely different elements that only their agency offers.
If we took every piece of counsel from our clients and tried to help them find opportunities based on their judgement of what worked and didn’t work, we’d be out of business (sorry, no offense meant clients).
Agencies hire us because they can’t do what we do, on their own. They’ve tried and haven’t succeeded.
The same is true of your clients.
They can’t do what you do on their own – at least not in the same manner – or if you’re delivering on all cylinders (strategic, creative, service), then there’s little hope that they can be nearly as proficient as you in helping them build their business.