Fostering Client Relationships
As the Creative Director, I was fortunate enough to attend The One Club’s Creative Leaders Retreat in Scottsdale this past February. For two days, professionals from around the world shared their wide-ranging knowledge on the advertising industry. The conference included a series of breakout sessions and round table discussions. For creative professionals, it was an opportunity to hear different perspectives and learn from one another.
A variety of interesting topics were covered including, building in time to fail and the total market approach to marketing strategy. One of the main takeaways that resonated with me centered around client relationships and how it simply comes down to loving your clients. To me, loving your clients is the key to having successful client relationships and depends on these four elements: fit, listening, establishing trust and showing you care.
Make Sure They’re a Good Fit
Surrounding yourself with the right people in life is important and I find this to be especially true in relation to the clients we work with. Before establishing a partnership with a potential client, consider whether they are a good fit in the following areas:
- Culturally — do they share similar values?
- Monetarily — do they make business sense?
- Creatively — do they share the same passion to do great work?
Be cautious–if it seems like a potential client doesn’t meet this criteria, it’s okay to say no. In the long run, you will save yourself and your agency a lot of time and energy by avoiding any messy breakups down the road.
Learn to Listen
Good listening is at the core of great work. Listening enhances understanding and is much more than simply waiting for your turn to speak. Many of us start crafting our replies while our clients are still talking. Stop doing that. Listening takes your undivided attention. Try leaving all distractions behind when you are listening to your clients, including smartphones and laptops. This may take some time to get in good habits when it comes to listening, but like all crafts, time and effort is required to perfect your skills.
Establishing trust is critical to developing and maintaining a great client relationship. Trust is the core ingredient of credibility and credibility allows us to establish influence with our clients. Trust is best gained through open dialogue and true collaboration. Be open to client input, but feel free to disagree. Respectful debate allows us to see things from a different perspective and almost always results in stronger concepts and better ideas.
Show Them You Care
People are emotional first and intellectual second. Clients don’t care what we have to say until they know we care. Spend the time to truly become an expert on your client’s business and industry. Whenever possible, meet with them face-to-face, bring new ideas even if they aren’t asked for and always be transparent with your passion. Your clients will not only notice, but will appreciate how invested you are in their success.
Great client relationships are critical in our industry because they allow us to do great work. Great work helps keep us happy and engaged. The trick is to love your clients and everything else should fall into place. To find out more about the clients that we love, check out our amazing client list.