There’s a lot to be learned from a mistake. No matter the situation, a mistake should always be looked at as an opportunity for growth. As people, we strive to be better than we were the day before. As a small agency in Baton Rouge, we are working to be better than we were an hour ago.
Without getting into the details,
let’s be clear that we made a mistake.
It wasn’t anything terrible, but it damaged a relationship that was important to us. When you’re a digital marketing agency, you interact with a wide array of clients. Collaborating as a team often involves dealing with different customers who have a lot of different personalities and problems to be solved.
Customer relations is one of the biggest, most impactful aspects of operating a small agency. Behind all the SEO, budgets and emails, there are people. It sounds silly saying it out loud, but it’s something we should all remember. And this is because people value communication, and communication builds trust. At the core of every healthy relationship is a solid foundation of trust. But how do you build trust – effectively communicating and interacting with clients on with them on a personal and professional level? As we said earlier, we made a mistake. But, just like any other mistake, we learned from it – five things to be exact:
1. Over produce.
This is the most important. “Under promise and over deliver,” – it’s a quote we have all heard at one point, but the truth behind is resounding. When you work with a client they typically ask for certain services, you invoice them, produce, etc., etc. It’s routine – the minutia within the way the marketing industry operates. However, sometimes you need to go beyond EXACTLY what they paid to receive. When you work with a client, you are becoming a part of their team and vice versa. No matter the cost or scope or timeline -you both want the same thing: to do good work. Because of this, it’s important to know that, while you should be realistic about what you can do, you should always be on the lookout for ways to help the client that isn’t in your scope of work. Do they need a blog? Could they rank better on Google? Is there digital presence substantial? It may not be a part of what they’re paying you to watch, but it’s important to let them know you notice it. You saw it, and you know it could be better. Maybe they’ll pay you to fix it, maybe they won’t, but no matter the outcome, you brought it to their attention, and that builds trust.
2. Be a leader.
Simply put, if a client could use HubSpot, Photoshop, or code, they probably wouldn’t be reaching out to you. They are coming to you for help because you can do something they can’t. They’re already putting their trust in you, considering you an expert in the field. Prove them right by stepping up to the plate and taking charge. It’s your job as an agency to give the client confidence in your ability to do what you do, but you first need to understand that taking charge is key. It seems like a no-brainer, actually: the client is coming to you to lead them, so be a leader and lead them. Too often do we get lost in the intricacies of our day and lean too much on the client for help. While it’s important to get their direction, it’s also important to make sure they aren’t pulling all the weight. Think about it like this: you’re in the woods with a guide you hired because they said they know the area like the back of their hand. Halfway through they look at you and say, “I think we are lost, can you help me figure where we are on the map?” At this point, you’d most likely step in saying, “You had one job to do.”
3. Share knowledge.
Similar to our last point, you need to understand that most clients don’t know or understand everything that’s involved in the logistics or processes of your work. There’s an old saying that, “everyone likes to eat boudin, but nobody wants to see how it’s made.” Well, with clients, they want to see how it’s made. To remedy this, make sure there are touch points throughout every project that brings the client in and explains to them what is going on. It’s important they understand what you’re doing so they can get a better grasp on why you’re doing it. Not only will this make the entire process run like a well-oiled machine. Always educate clients on what you’re doing, because you cannot explain to someone how the boudin is made if they don’t even know what it is.
Communication is something that is crucial to every single relationship as a whole, not just clients, and agencies. Marriages, raising children, owning pets – the list can go on, but the point is that communication is essential. There’s no need to go into detail about this because it’s pretty obvious. Check in on clients, talk to them, ask about their lives outside of work. Treat it like a relationship with a close friend or family member – you know, someone you care about. Be a human. These are people you’re going to be interacting with very closely for months at a time. There are people behind all the business, and people value good communication.
5. Show & tell.
All of our points fused into a single lesson involves communicating, leading and showing the client progress and results. “150 people opened the newsletter we sent out, 50 clicked the link, and 35 went to the website.” This is good, but it’s not groundbreaking. This isn’t a huge sale that’s going to earn them a promotion, and nobody is going to be popping champagne because 50 people clicked on a MailChimp newsletter. Point being, it shows progress – progress that’s producing results and is positive. 50 isn’t a large number, but it’s more than zero. This is just one example, but by communicating small wins like this to the client, you provide a touchpoint that builds on the relationship and shows them that what you’re doing is working. Sometimes, that’s what they need.
When it comes to interacting with clients, there are many opportunities for things to go right or wrong. An agency-client relationship involves a lot of work, focus, and communication. Someone has to lead; someone has to be an expert, and someone has to be the more observant. A lot of times these responsibilities will fall on an agency because they’re the ones getting paid. For agency and client alike, it’s important to remember that while you both work in different places, you’re working on the same thing. You’re part of the same team, and you both want to do a good job. Most importantly, you’re going to make mistakes. Learn from it. Grow. Make sure it doesn’t happen again because, if you walk away from a mistake without evolving, it’s no longer a mistake…
It’s a failure.
View the presentation we made from this blog post below!