We know the meaning of 'long-term relationships'. And not just romantically.
At LEWIS, we are lucky to have worked with many of our clients for a number of years, whether that means looking after the day-to-day maintenance of a website or being on hand to help out with exciting rebrands and design projects.
Our longstanding client relationships are what get us out of bed in the morning and though the thrill of a new contract gets our hearts racing, it's the gentle nurturing of our relationships with our more permanent clients that paves the way to everlasting love.
So here are our top tips on how an agency and a business can keep their long-term relationship at sizzle, rather than fizzle.
It's all about trust and commitment
Like any relationship, trust and commitment are the keys to happiness, so why should an agency's relationship with its client be any different? A business invests time to determine which agency is the one for them and as an agency, it's important to work your socks off to prove that you can be a good 'other half' for a business.
Working with an agency on retainer gives a business the reassurance that it will receive great concepts that are clearly in line with its continually evolving marketing objectives and in order for this to happen, it needs a trusty other half it can rely on.
We believe in taking an honest, transparent approach to everything we do, particularly when it comes to clients. In turn, we receive the trust we need to be able to offer a reliable approach to any marketing activity. In order to avoid any broken hearts, it's worth sitting down with clients to establish a process and a budget that everyone can live with.
It's important to manage your time. We use Synergist, a project management and costing tool that helps us make sure we are dedicating enough time to each client so they feel reassured and relaxed about their relationship with us.
With trust and commitment established, it should be plain sailing from there on in.
You're a team – work together
Similar to personal relationships, it's all about teamwork and when life becomes a little too much we all need someone to lean on for support.
The same is true of client relationships, particularly if they are long-term. Spinning too many plates at once is difficult and sometimes the going can get tough. So that's why it's important that as an agency, you reassure your client that you are each other's 'partner in crime' and that you are there to help when pressures reach a high.
A good retained agency should offer an extra pair of hands to a business and should become an extension of its 'work family'. As an agency, it's worthwhile encouraging clients to come to you for advice and to act - as many life partners do - as a sounding board for advice and inspiration when their brain grinds to a halt. That way, agencies can position themselves firmly in the circle of trust and can offer help beyond the parameters of its day-to-day relationship with a client.
A reliable partner in work - and in life - should be able to take a step back and look at a situation from an outside perspective while offering constructive advice based on goals and success.
In short, a good agency partner should have the client's best interests at heart, should always be on the client's side and should provide support to deliver the best results, just like a partner can.
Make the most of your relationship
As an agency, we can offer our clients access to everything, including our designers, project management team and developers, which helps them to make the most of our relationship with them.
We don't like to leave anyone out and are firm believers that in long-term relationships, it's important to introduce clients to people beyond the first point of contact, much like introducing a new boyfriend to your parents and extended family.
But as always, it works both ways so it's worth making a conscious effort to get to know your clients and their teams, such as the IT, brand and procurement departments. That way, you can establish best practice and allow your clients to focus on what matters most to their business.
If you are an agency and want a relationship to last, it's important to appreciate each client for who they are. This can often require an agency to adapt their way of working to suit the needs of a client, whether it's an individual or the business as a whole.
For us at LEWIS, we take great pride in what we do, whether we establish a relationship with a client that rolls on for years or work with a business on a short burst campaign. Most importantly we recognise that with all our client relationships, no matter how long or short term, you only get back what you put in so be sure that this is no less than 100%.
By Gillian Grant, Account Director at LEWIS
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