There’s a number of essential components for a great agency-client partnership, but at the end of the day, one stands above all else: communication. Agencies must have great communication to fully understand the needs of their clients.
The importance of understanding these needs is obvious to anyone who’s ever worked with an agency. When an agency doesn’t truly understand what their client actually needs, it can be an uphill struggle for both parties to reach the full potential of the campaign.
Conversely, if an agency really “gets it” and knows all the gritty details, they can provide an extraordinary value for every dollar spent. The client enjoys greater revenue and growth, while the agency has the pleasure of working with a happy client — one they will probably serve for years.
In an environment where everyone’s time and focus is limited, it’s not uncommon to see communication fall by the wayside, especially when deadlines are hitting you hard and fast.
Make no mistake about it: it’s the agency’s responsibility to communicate with the client until they understand these needs. Sure, communication is a two-way street and everyone likes to point the finger when things go awry. But at the end of the day, the duty lies with the agency. They’re the marketing and advertising experts, after all.
Clients often have a difficult time expressing their needs. Sometimes, they even have a hard time understanding their own needs. In many cases, a client won’t understand or recognize how marketing and advertising can solve their problems. So it falls on the agency’s shoulders to ask all the right questions, and then some. It’s the agency’s responsibility to pick their brains, to get to know their client inside and out.
Communicating about client needs isn’t always easy, but it’s the foundation for a remarkable partnership. Here are some of the questions on our mind at every first client meeting:
“What are your overall business goals (immediate/long-term)?”
Immediate and long-term business goals should be your guiding light for any marketing and advertising campaign. In everything they do, agencies must ask themselves how each piece of the strategy works towards the client’s immediate or long-term goals.
“What does your ideal client look like?”
Most businesses have problem clients, amazing clients, and many clients somewhere in between. Why attract any client when you can focus on the amazing ones? Agencies should gain an intimate understanding of what these clients look like, then get to work figuring out how to draw them in.
“How are we going to measure success (KPI)?”
A few months down the line, any savvy client is going to want proof that their agency is providing a worthwhile ROI. Talk about KPIs up front. What does marketing success look like to the client, and how do they want to track it? What type of mile marker is everyone looking for?
“Who do you want to be? What do you want to be known in your market for?”
Does the clients product/service appeal to millennials or a more mature audience? Is the client trying to position themselves as a luxury company, or one offering great value at a low price? Every brand should have its own niche and image, and agencies need to figure out how the client wants to position themselves.
“What marketing strategy has or hasn’t worked in the past?”
Nothing is more frustrating than making the same mistake twice. It’s worthwhile to learn about a client’s past successes and failures to ensure repeated success and avoid pitfalls. Having a better pulse on this many times saves a good amount of time, money and energy on both sides.
“Who do you see as your largest direct threat in your market?”
Who’s a client’s biggest threat and why? What is it about this brand or company that allows them to challenge you? Beyond that, what can we do to mitigate this threat and possibly expand into that space.
It’s easy for agencies to rush headstrong into getting knee deep into the work that they love to do, but results greatly improve by taking the necessary steps to better understand the needs of the client. Ask the right questions up front, and the results will speak for themselves.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more please comment below or contact us directly at (248) 579-9972. Thanks!