Robert has worked at powerhouse agencies like Ammirati and Digitas and served as a CEO for another agency before founding his consulting firm, Solomon Strategic. He has a wealth of experience in marketing and client relations from his decades in the agency world.
Here are the main takeaways from the interview:
It Starts with TrustWith any relationship, the foundation will always be trust. This is what gets you through the tough times as an agency and business owner. When there's a client fire, your ability to address the issue and retain the client and keep things moving ahead. This has so much of its foundation based on their trust in you.
If they trust you, you will retain clients longer, get more referrals, and will have the freedom to do more creative marketing. Trust is the linchpin in running a fun and profitable agency.
Great work doesn't drive great relationships. Great relationships drive great work. Great relationships are built on trust. Take time to invest in building trust today with your clients.
Maximize ValueAgencies often focus on getting more clients in the door rather then taking the time to nurture and increase the value of the clients they already have.
You can do this by increasing the length of retention or services they're purchasing from you.
Relationships can actually be scalable as well too. Once you've identified what you work well in a relationship with your clients, track it and apply it across the board to others as well. This will help you continue to build valuable relationships.
It is more affordable as an agency to keep and increase the value of your current clients then continually chasing new ones.
The Power of In-PersonThis is something we don't often hear or promoted in the digital marketing space, and that is the power of being in-person. We would prefer to send an email, Skype, or get on a call with a client to avoid being in person. It's more convenient and cheaper for us.
However, being in-person takes relationships tp the next level. Being seen and around makes you more familiar, and they become more comfortable with you.
You'll discover new opportunities about how you can help them and grow their businesses. Robert explains how he used to do this with his client American Express and the value it brought his agency as well as the value it gave American Express.
The 5 Principles of Client ServiceRobert has distilled the keys of a healthy client relationship into 5 principles.
1) Show UpAgencies have a bad reputation with a lot of clients. A lot of it is because they are perceived as being flaky. They don't show up when they need to, they communicate sporadically, the ball gets dropped on projects, etc. Agencies need to work extra hard to combat this impression.
One way to do it is ensured that your client communication is on point, but you also want to build up a face to face rapport and connection when you get the chance. This is how you start building and continue to have a healthy relationship with a client.
Things will inevitably go wrong at some point, but your ability to show up is the difference between a client canceling or being retained.
It doesn't have to be meetings too when you connect with a client; it could just be brunch, coffee, or drinks after work. You want a relationship you can fall back on.
2) Follow UpClients are paying you money. Whether justified or not, this means they believe they should be able to get ahold of you and you're on call.
Now you want to set time frames for communication, but it's essential for a client to feel they're being listened to and not just receiving radio silence. You want to be responsive to a client. This means acknowledging what is happening, even if you can't fix the problem right away.
Clients feel better when they feel listened to.
3) Speak UpYou need to communicate with your clients effectively. You want to be clear and concise, so there are no doubts about what you're saying. Being able to communicate with a client sets you apart from other agencies.
Whether it's a meeting, presentation, phone call, or in writing, you need to practice the art of effective communication.
4) Make It UpYou need to continually be presenting and generating new ideas to get a client better results. The ability to ideate and come up with new solutions for clients will make them feel they are working with a partner.
Far too often agencies fall into routines and don't come up with new and innovative solutions for the client.
5) Straighten UpThis last point is about getting your systems all tightened up. You want to make sure your scheduling, budgets, and scope of work are all accurate.
You don't want to be constantly asking a client for more money, be behind on projects, or having a scope of work that doesn't deliver results.
The Art of Client Services
Robert has a book all about the client servicing called The Art of Client Service. He recommends it for individuals in agencies at all levels, from project and account managers to creatives and CEO. It shows how you can be cost-effective in your relationship building and building a valuable relationship with your clients.
With ever-increasing competition in the agency space, being able to develop valuable relationships with your clients is critical to making your business successful.
No matter the level you are in at your agency, it's important to know how to do these things well. Reading can supplement the day-to-day grind of running your agency.
If you want to reach Robert, you can connect with him here on his website.