How to Build Successful Client Relationships:
- Make a great first impression
- Create a consistent and clear onboarding process
- Set clear expectations
- Tell your customers where you want them to go
- Over communicate
- Be the guide and create a culture of partnership
- Encourage feedback
- Share the love
As a marketing agency leader, you want to be able to focus on producing effective marketing services for your customers. But the problem is, customer turnover takes focus away from content strategy and production. The stop-start cadence of attracting new customers, learning their business, completing projects and then off-boarding – only to start all over again – is holding your business back. In order to get back to providing marketing strategy and services that produce long-term results for your customers, you need to build lasting partnerships with your customers.
Happy customers are the best lead generators, as their referral is the strongest social proof, and leads to higher quality clients with longer relationship spans. To build customer relationships that stabilize their marketing momentum and your recurring revenue, focus on continuous improvement in these 8 key areas:
Make a great first impression
- Send prompt, personalized communication. As soon as the agreement is solidified, send thoughtful, upbeat communication letting the customer know that the team is thrilled to work with them.
- Add personalization by using their name, reiterating their goals, and including unique talking points.
- Take the time to record a brief video from the agency owner, account manager, or members of the team to welcome the customer into the partnership and make a fantastic first impression.
Create a consistent and clear onboarding process
- Develop an onboarding process that your team operates within. This will help ensure that each client gets a consistent and positive experience with your team. This foundational experience will set the tone for the relationship.
- Be clear about what your customer can expect from your team, especially in areas of communication, project timelines and scope, and next steps.
Set clear expectations
- Have an agenda for your calls so all parties arrive with clear expectations on what will be accomplished and what items they may be responsible for.
- Be sure your customer knows the cadence of communication and how quickly they can expect a response from their account manager
Tell your customers where you want them to go
- Be mindful of the language used. We’ve all experienced a revision cycle that seems never-ending. Reinforce the boundaries around revisions by incorporating the expectations into your everyday communication. When sending content to the customer to review, consider phrasing like “we are excited to send this over as we move into Revision Round 1 of 2.”
- Use language to create a mindset shift. Further avoid revision vortexes by reframing a “content review call.” Rather than titling the meeting a “Review Call,” which gives them the “job” of seeking areas to revise or provide comments on, position the meeting as a “Content Approval Call.” By guiding the customer’s mindset to have the goal of approving the content, you will achieve that goal much faster. Be sure to welcome feedback and revision notes during your time together but keep the focus on the main objective of getting the content approved and published.
- Ensure your customers are aware of the progress of their project and provide opportunities to ask questions.
- Be proactive on the communication, not reactionary. Don’t wait on your customers to reach out to you, asking for an update. Set a standard cadence for customer communication that the team can stick to so that the agency can ensure regular contact.
Be the guide and create a culture of partnership
- Your customers are hiring a marketing agency with the goal of being led. They are offboarding the marketing focus, and they don’t want to be in the driver’s seat. They want marketing that works while they sleep.
- Aim to be an extension of their business and a trusted partner. Accomplish this by being an excellent communicator and proactive in strategy and execution.
- Remember that your customer knows their business and their own customers better than your marketing agency does and having regular connection time with the customer to get a peek into their business will allow you to become more ingrained in their business and be able to adapt marketing strategy based on their unique needs.
- Be gracious in receiving feedback and let the customer know what you are hearing and how you plan on incorporating the feedback. Validate their ideas by using phrases like “I can certainly see that,” “that’s a valid concern,” and the like. Be positive and collaborative in your communication, and work together on a positive solution.
- When appropriate, talk through your thought process or strategy on the decisions that went into the work. Having gained perspective, your customer may let go of their change request and follow your lead.
Share the love
- Take the time to add an expression of gratitude in your email updates.
- Send blog articles on topics your customer would be interested in.
- Set a budget for Surprise & Delights. Take away the budgetary barrier of sending small tokens of appreciation by allocating funds toward small gifts. Be intentional about listening for cues such as a new baby or significant personal events and then send a small gift from the team. Celebrate website launches by sending a warm cookie delivery that the customer can enjoy during the Website Launch Celebration Meeting. Adding a tangible touch to your digital services will add a sensory element to the experience.
BONUS: inject these tactics into your internal team culture.
Happy team members exude joy in their work and they’re more likely to go above and beyond for your customers. Your customers will be able to see and feel the team dynamic in every interaction with your agency, so be sure to take care of your team first!
The best way to position your agency for success is to prioritize relationships. Make every interaction positive, informative, and collaborative, and you and your team will foster lasting partnerships that drive your business forward.
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Josh Davis is the co-founder and President of 8Bend Marketing. Josh is a skilled marketing strategist, copywriter, and StoryBrand messaging expert who is passionate about helping customers clarify their messaging and stop losing deals they should be winning.