Archive for the ‘Client Development’ Category

EP18: Small Spark Theory Live Part Two

June 29th, 2018

Small Spark Theory Live was recorded in front of a live studio audience at White City Place in May. In Part One, we were joined by agency board advisor Felix Velarde and Joanna Brassett, founder of Studio Into to discuss the challenges faced by agency leaders at various stages of growth. 

 

In this, the second of two episodes recorded on the night, we gain a client perspective by speaking to Head of Marketing and Creative for Dishoom – Sara Stark. Sara discusses her experience of working with agencies and offers advice for approaching potential clients, along with invaluable tips for a building successful client / agency relationships. (Hint: send Sara flowers!) 

 

As always we have a competition for you. Listen in to find out how to win a copy of Sara’s recommended read: Winning in Your Own Way: The Nine and a Half Golden Rules of Branding by Robert Bean.

 

Thanks again to our lovely co-hosts YCN, everyone at White City Place and to photographer David Townhill. 

The revenue growth opportunity your agency could be missing

August 10th, 2015

Here’s a question: What does your agency quality assurance policy look like?

 

In my experience it’s usually something that has been pulled together with the sole intention of ticking a box during a procurement-led roster review or tender process. In most cases, it had been inherited from another agency, topped, tailed and tweaked a bit. Ask anyone in the agency not directly involved with procurement, RFIs or tenders and I doubt they will know of its existence, let alone its content. It might talk loosely about approval processes and meeting clients objectives but rarely offers anything of any substance.

 

The reason for this is completely understandable. The tender process is so excruciating that the quality policy is relegated; along with the professional indemnity insurance certificate, the health and safety policy and other such delights, to the folder marked ‘Must Have’ deep in the dusty RFI archive.

 

But here’s the thing. Your quality assurance policy could, and should, be critical to protecting and growing agency revenues.

 

So let’s go back a step. It’s hard to win clients. I’ve talked about this a lot in previous posts, in fact I talk about this all the time – and you know this already – but few agencies I speak to are putting the necessary safeguards in place to make the most of those hard-won relationships. The much discussed IPA report From Mad Men To Sad Men painted a grim picture of the state of client/agency relations when it was published last month.

 

Much like new business, the development of existing client business is often haphazard and even in the hands of the most proactive client service teams, the client plans, the process and momentum can get abandoned when things get busy. Moreover, rarely is anyone measuring the activity and opportunities generated from coordinated client planning.

 

We know that effective client planning and proactive, business focused (rather than project focused) account direction can build more profitable relationships – however, combined with a quality programme, a process that measures the quality of the client relationship then we can start to see significant bottom line advantage.

Late last year during my DBA workshop (Turning Clients into Advocates) we discussed client satisfaction programmes and the experience and opinion in the room was varied.

 

Of the 10 agencies present:

  • 7 hadn’t tried it
  • 1 had tried it and found it a complete waste of time
  • 1 had tried it and whilst it hadn’t been successful, knew why it hadn’t worked and wanted to try again
  • 1 had a successful programme up and running – it had been transformational for the business

 

My experience is closer to the latter. Gunpowder has worked with an agency for the last two years, up-skilling the client service team and building a framework with which to measure client satisfaction. The results? Existing client revenues were maintained against a predicted reduction in budgets, satisfaction scores went up, and the referrals from happy clients resulted in significant new business wins.

 

So, what are the ingredients for a successful programme? First of all we need to think of it as a quality programme rather than a client satisfaction survey. It is not a one hit wonder. To really see the results it requires time, planning, resource, investment and commitment. Ideally it needs to happen every year and be carried out by a third party. The benefits need to be clearly communicated to clients, to staff and the process must become part of the agency culture. It will probably feel uncomfortable – you are being measured, you are accountable, there’s nowhere to hide.

 

Nevertheless, the benefits of a well-executed quality programme are worth it. You’ll gain respect from your clients. Deeper, more informed relationships. You have the opportunity to discuss and fix problems before they fester. You can monitor the relevance of your service offering. You have benchmarks for performance, for individuals, teams and the agency as a whole. Best of all, the process inevitably generates referrals.

 

You’ll have a quality policy that doesn’t just sit in a tender application folder gathering digital dust, you’ll have a quality mark, a programme you can shout about, build into your new business credentials for all the world to see.

 

What are you waiting for?

 

Gunpowder provides Account Development workshops and bespoke client satisfaction-led quality programmes. For more information, get in touch.

Have you got the X Factor?

November 13th, 2014

As we hit the midway point in another season of warbling wannabes, with Simon Cowell’s shirts unbuttoned to an all time low and the first ‘shock exit’ already in the bag, I’ve been pondering the motivations of our nation of viewers.

 

What makes us pick up the phone and vote for one talent over another? History shows us the best voices often bounce out of the process whereas the comedic, or those with ‘a story’ stick around for a lot longer. Vanilla just doesn’t cut it.

 

And what does this have to do with agencies? Well quite a lot as it happens.

 

The choices we make in business are more emotional than we think. And for clients, where cost, strategy and creativity are equal; it is personalities, relationships and the ‘experience’ that can make the difference between hiring, retaining or referring one agency over another.

 

If, like most of the agencies I meet, the vast majority of your business comes from referrals you are in good shape. Clearly this means there are some clients and other people in your network who are advocates. They get you. They have made a connection with you that sets you apart from the competition. Their experience of working with you has been positive. They trust you to deliver. Moreover, they know that if they recommend you to someone else, you’ll make them look good by association.

 

Yet what’s interesting to me is that many agencies do nothing to actively promote referrals. There are no systems in place, little management of client data, not much in the way of account development planning and rarely any process for measurement of client satisfaction. Interesting because 10% more effort here has the potential to deliver far greater returns than 10% more effort in cold new business hunting.

 

So, if you’ve been pretty good at getting referrals but need more business, think about your X Factor. Find out what it is about the experience of working with you that clients like, the emotional stuff, and do more of it.

 

My DBA workshop: “Turning Clients into Advocates” takes place on November 24th.

 

Bespoke Client Satisfaction Programs and Account Development Skills Workshops are available, see me for more information.

Account Development Skills Workshop: October 10th 2014, London

August 28th, 2014

If you’re starting to think about revenue forecasting for 2015 and looking to make more of your existing client relationships then here’s some good news – Gunpowder’s Account Development Skills Workshop is back by popular demand for an open class this Autumn.

 

This half day workshop is designed for project managers, account managers and account directors from agencies of any size or discipline.

 

An interactive and informative morning, attendees will learn techniques for gaining greater understanding of client’s businesses, identifying opportunities for growth and creating workable account plans.

 

Full details can be found at the event page here or feel free to get in touch with any questions – bespoke in-agency workshops are also available for larger groups.

 

This is what some of our previous delegates have said:

 

“I think the session was a great way of arming you with the right tools to make farming clients that bit easier. I definitely left the session feeling empowered rather than feeling like I had been dictated the “right way” to do my job. Thank you.”

 

“I found the workshop extremely beneficial and was very pleased that the skills we learnt could be developed on once we left.”

 

“I really enjoyed being made to think about my clients business from a different perspective”

 

The Client/Agency relationship stripped bare

June 26th, 2014

How do you measure your relationships with your clients?

 

At this year’s Cannes Lions, Tim Leake from RPA presented the findings from his research conducted in association with USA Today. The results make interesting, but not wholly surprising reading. For example – 90% of Agencies believe they understand their Clients businesses but only 65% of Clients believe this to be true.

 

As Tim points out, “considering we’re communication companies, we suck at communication” The full presentation is here and well worth a five minute read.

 

Considering that almost every agency, when asked, will cite client referrals as their main source of new business revenue, surely delighting clients, thereby maximising the potential for those prized referrals and safeguarding forecast revenue, should be a priority. But simply assuming clients are happy isn’t good enough. Asking them outright how you are performing, how you could do better and measuring your performance, is brave but necessary if you want to grow.

 

Gunpowder provides bespoke client satisfaction programmes for agencies who want to get closer to their clients. To find out more get in touch with Lucy Mann.