What do Apple, Starbucks, and Lady Gaga have in common? Fanatical fans. When a person, product, or company can provide an extraordinary experience, they create fanatical fans who will become an integral part of their growth and success. This same concept can be applied to marketing agencies—create a fanatical client and they will be an asset towards your future success.
But how do you take a new client and make them your #1 fan? It’s a process, but not nearly as difficult as you may think—let's start at the beginning:
Build a relationship
It won’t happen overnight, but the first step to a flourishing partnership is connecting with your client. This could include bonding over a common hobby, chatting about their own goals for their company, and everything in between. If your client prefers to keep things all business, don’t sweat, just treat every touchpoint and correspondence with them as an opportunity to provide a welcoming, collaborative, and efficient experience. Take it upon yourself to get ahead of potential questions or flags and do your research into their respective industries. It’s small and consistent actions every day that lead to a strong foundation of trust between you and a client.
It sounds so simple, but showing up for your client when they need you is a huge step forward in building trust. This doesn’t mean “stop, drop, and respond”, this means acknowledging their email, assuring them that you’ve received their request and will follow up as soon as you can. A quick 30 second response can make a big difference for your client. This is an easy way to facilitate confidence, communication, and trust that your client is always top of mind. That being said, don’t always wait for the requests to come in, take the initiative to always be a few steps ahead. Suggest processes, solutions, and optimizations that can make your client’s job easier (and make them look good internally too).
As with anything you intend to grow, consistency is key to building trust. Continue to build connections and delivering exceptional experiences and your relationship with your client will flourish. Hit your deadlines, provide strong and supported recommendations, maintain your touchpoints and contact reports until trusting you to get the job done just becomes second nature.
Overall, your main objective is to help your client and their brand succeed. To do this, your team should act as though you are an extension of your client, not just a “vendor”. Their goals are your goals, their failures are your failures—your client needs to feel like you truly have their best interest in mind and can trust you and your team to go above and beyond.
The value of a successfully built relationship with your client cannot be overstated. Once a relationship is strong, you and your team can have the courage to share recommendations and challenge client feedback when needed. On the flip side, a strong relationship with your client allows them to provide you with the briefs, feedback, and open-minded collaboration you will need to create the best work. As your relationship strengthens, your conversations will get exponentially easier.
Great communication, efficient processes, and friendly collaboration are all great starting points, but if you really want to create a fanatical client you must take it a few steps further. Uncommon service can include a multitude of things: small gestures that go beyond the typical agency/client relationship, going “beyond the brief” with projects and assets, giving the client extra ideas to show off to their bosses, and so much more. The idea is to show them that you are continually thinking about bettering the brand and using all the resources available to you (including your team) to give them that exceptional experience.
Lastly, the final step to securing a strong relationship with your client is thought leadership. The value you bring to a client isn’t just the physical assets your team produces, it’s the ideation, creation, and expertise that you and your team can deliver. Think outside the box, bring fresh and new ideas—in short, blow your client’s mind as much as possible. A client should be able to look at you and your team as a guide and leader, rather than a simple production house.
Okay, we understand that it may look daunting to follow the above steps, so let’s boil it down. If you put the same (if not more) amount of effort into building a relationship as you do toward actually creating the work, your client will become your #1 fan naturally. Communication, communication, and (in case you missed it) communication are the key to a strong client/agency relationship. Show up, be unexpected (in a good way), foster trust, and display true leadership and you’ll have an arena full of screaming fans in no time.