It's a cliche for sure, but agency life is a roller coaster. Clients throw curveballs every single day. How you respond to them says a lot about your ability as a marketer, and it could make or break your relationship with the client.
Stories From the Trenches
A few weeks into my tenure as an Account Director at a Pittsburgh agency, we had a problem. One of our clients wasn't happy with the quality of our copy. We tried everything within the parameters they had established (and even some outside of the parameters), and nothing quite worked. To complicate things even further, they weren't sure what they wanted.
It came to a head one day when the Account Manager showed me an email from the client. "What do I do with this?" she asked me.
In the email, the client again expressed concerns about the copy. but this time they threatened to cancel their contract with us.
Instead of continuing the conversation through email, I had the Account Manager request a phone call so we could dig into the specifics. This was it, no more of the "I'm not sure what I want, but I'll know it when I see it" approach.
The next day, the account team and I sat down on a conference call with the client. We started by letting them vent. They explained what they saw as problematic, and they pulled a few examples of copy they didn't like. After some prodding, they went into detail about why they didn't like it.
While on the call, we asked a few questions revolving around the copy to get clarification.
Once that was completed, we revealed our strategy for moving forward:
Using the feedback from the call, I would audit the team's copy moving forward—before it was sent to the client.
The team would meet internally every other week to workshop two randomly-selected pieces of copy.
The client was pleased. They had been heard, and we put a strategy in place that they could understand and trust.
In return, we requested additional materials that would be advantageous to our writing. They quickly sent them over for our own use.
* * *
We had another client—an architectural firm—that had been sold a monthly package of two blogs a month. They knew the blogs were slated for 350-500 words, and they were enthusiastic about our relationship.
We approved a few blog topics, and then I got to work, generating two blogs I thought were very strong.
They didn't agree with my perspective. Instead, they were disappointed and frustrated by the first two blogs. Unfortunately, they struggled to explain why. The best they could do is say we missed the point.
So I went back to the drawing board and filled in some of the blank spaces I had purposefully left out before.
Still no good. They were only more upset.
After some more conversation, we finally reached the source of the problem: They didn't want simple blogs. They wanted detailed stories about the buildings they designed and the communities they impacted. That was more than any writer could properly squeeze into 500 words.
The problem, then, had been with the original service order. The solution was simple: We altered the service order to allow for bigger pieces of content.
Almost overnight, the relationship went from strained to productive and happy. The first blog we wrote under the new service order was one of their most successful pieces of content ever, and they were excited to see what else we would create on their behalf in the future.
Communication Secrets You Can Steal
1. If there's a problem, you need a conversation. A client can't get away with only saying, "I don't like that, try again." An agency needs to push back for more information.
2. Get examples of what they like before signing a service order. If the line items don't reflect the examples they provide, do they really want what's on the service order?
3. Keep the conversations going. The toughest accounts I've worked on are the ones where someone isn't communicating enough. For a marketing agency to be truly effective, the client needs to speak up—unless they're willing to give the agency 100% freedom to do what they feel is best.
Looking for an agency that communicates with you? Poetica Marketing is here to ensure you receive top-notch customer service and around-the-clock marketing execution. Contact us today!