Guest post by Peter Gerritsen, President, Taan Worldwide, one of the world’s oldest and most successful networks of carefully selected independent advertising & communications agencies.
I was taught early on in the business to do my best to keep clients separate.
Treat each like they are the only one.
Over the years, I’ve come believe the opposite may be a stronger approach.
I’m not saying that you tell a client they are less important than another, but in your business development work your current clients could be a huge asset that you haven’t used enough.
There was a quote the other day at the bottom of the “ANA SmartBrief on Marketing Leadership” —
“There is no marketing stronger than a customer testimonial about your brand.”
– Karen Quintos, SVP & CMO at Dell
It got me thinking about how we use our current clients to promote our good work.
Many agencies post testimonials on their site.
We use case studies as examples of our past success.
We post blogs about successes and show creative for our clients.
All further support our claims of expertise, however, third party endorsements can be much stronger than us making the claims ourselves.
None of this is news.
My point is we should make the effort to use these endorsements more often.
I’ve seen a number of case study presentations at industry conferences that both the client and the agency present together.
These deliver multiple points of view, and demonstrate how both work well together.
We should do more of these.
I have learned that when you have a truly strong relationship with your clients, and they value you as much as the work you do for their business, they will want to help your agency grow.
When you grow, you have more capacity to handle more work.
Bigger and stronger agencies can attract even better talent, which help the client, and when a prospect hires you, it confirms to the current client that they made a good choice in hiring you first.
When you ask them to participate in a new business effort, you are telling them:
– how much you value them
– How proud you are of the work you are doing for them
– that you trust their honest opinions of your relationship
So, what if you went a step further.
In the right circumstance, maybe your current client would be willing to allow you to arrange a call between them and your prospect, without you being in the middle.
That would be a whole lot of trust.
And it would say volumes about how important the agency-client relationship is to both you and your client.
What if you could have your client participate in a case study live and in person at a new business presentation?
Yeah, I know that may be pushing it, but could be worth the effort for the right pitch.
It’s not a new idea, but one that is seldom used.
Our aim should always be to produce work and have a relationship with clients that makes everyone proud.
If your client is uncomfortable in offering public support of your work, it may signal some issues with your relationship or the work you are producing.
This is not something you can disregard.
It warrants a conversation about expectations and results.
Do not delay addressing this situation.
It is an opportunity to fix something that is not working as expected, or just understanding how your client views their agency relationships. No matter what the situation, you should know it.
We all wrestle with elevating the typical customer-vendor transactional basis that most see in this business.
The goal should always be having very strong relationships with our clients.
When we get them, we should celebrate, and promote them.
Let your client know how proud you are to be important to their business.
One way could be asking them to participate in other ways in your success.
Peter Gerritsen has been a leader in the Advertising and Communications profession since the mid-1980s. He has worked in and with some of the most successful communications firms in the industry.
President, Taan Worldwide
Taan is one of the world’s oldest and most successful networks of carefully selected independent advertising & communications agencies. Today there are 52 member companies operating in 32 countries and 67 cities worldwide. Pete works with the member agencies in on-going shared learning to improve process, insights, and management.
Co-Founder, A-Team Advisors
(2002 – 2010) A consulting practice that worked with advertising agencies around the world to improve financial, management, integration, client relationships, and creative processes.
Co-Founder, Allen & Gerritsen, Inc.
(1985 – 2002) He has helped guide the agency from start-up to the largest independent agency in New England, with over 100 people and $120 million in billings. Securing a reputation as a leader in Technology, B2B, and Consumer marketing, in the US and around the world.
The Communications Community
Pete was the Chairman of the New England Council Board of Governors for the 4As. Was on a member of Board of Directors for the New England region of the BMA. Has been a judge for a number advertising organizations in the US.