5 Ways to Build and Maintain Strong Agency-Client Relationships in a Competitive Market

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For marketing, advertising and PR firms, the relationships built between the company and clients are critical for driving repeated business, sustained growth and positive word of mouth. Maintaining these vital relationships is becoming increasingly difficult due to a fiercely competitive market where clients are looking for higher engagement, lower costs and better quality products and services.

The good news is that maintaining strong relationships with your clients is well-known to promote high retention rates and better revenue. One study found that customers who form a strong emotional connection with a brand have a 300% higher lifetime value compared to consumers who failed to build a relationship. For agency leaders, it’s important to have strategies in place to build and foster strong, long-lasting relationships with your clients.

Related: How to Make Your Clients Love Working With You

1. Set clear expectations and deliver on your promises

One of the best ways to build a relationship with your customers is by always delivering superior products and services. However, accomplishing this starts at the beginning of the relationship by setting clear expectations on what they can expect. Being transparent about the intended outcome, delivery timeframes and communication helps avoid any frustration that might come from misunderstandings or misaligned expectations.

For new firms, it’s especially important to impress your potential clients. Unfortunately, too many companies make big promises that they can’t successfully deliver. By overpromising, you set your customer up for potential disappointment. Instead, always offer realistic expectations with the intention of over-delivering. The customer will be impressed when you are able to deliver the marketing campaign in three weeks when you originally set an expectation of 25 business days. You might even throw in an unexpected freebie or perk that they weren’t expecting. By always keeping your promises and over-delivering when possible, you’ll build a relationship based on trust and will be recognized as a reliable business partner.

2. Focus on creating value first

Selling your services is an important part of growing revenue for your business. However, focusing solely on what you can get out of your customers could be sabotaging your ability to build strong relationships with your clients. Instead, focus on first providing them with value. This starts well before you sign your first contract. When clients see tangible value and benefits immediately from working with your business, they are more likely to reciprocate by remaining loyal customers to your company.

3. Communication, communication, communication

Sustaining an ongoing relationship with your clients requires connecting on a regular basis, even if they aren’t ready to purchase from you again. The problem is that many companies focus on connecting with their clients only when they want to make a new sale. This isn’t an effective way to build strong customer relationships because it can be perceived that you only care about them when they have something you want (i.e., their money).

Taking the time to check in with your clients on a regular basis is a great way to maintain a strong relationship. This also helps eliminate tension and remove the defenses that come up when every contact ends up being a sales pitch. These check-ins can be in-person meetings, phone calls or even a simple email.

It’s important to understand that no two clients are the same. Finding ways to tailor your communication to their preferences and needs lets the client know that you understand their needs, challenges and goals.

Related: 4 Tips to Forge Winning Client Relationships for the Long-Term

4. Own your mistakes

From time to time, your agency is going to make a mistake or upset a customer. That’s unavoidable. You’re going to miss a deadline, deliver an advertisement that should have never made it past the quality control process or drop the ball entirely. How your business responds to these issues can make a huge difference with your customers. Owning the mistake, being transparent about what happened and proactively working on a solution, lets them know that you care about resolving the issue.

Delivering difficult news or discussion challenges is never easy. By demonstrating your willingness to address challenges head-on and find mutually beneficial solutions, you’ll strengthen your client relationships and position yourself for long-term success.

5. Learn from failure through continuous improvement

Sometimes, you’ll lose clients no matter what your business does. This can be painful, especially if it’s a major client that generates a significant portion of your revenue. While the goal is to retain your clients, there is a silver lining to client turnover. As frustrating as it might be, always try to part ways on good terms. You never know when they might decide to come back to your business. A good way to do this is by offering them some form of value on their way out. For example, if you operate a digital marketing firm, you show good faith by supporting their transition to the next agency.

Also, taking the time to understand why they are leaving can highlight opportunities for improvement. Over time, taking action on these lessons can greatly strengthen your processes and ensure you avoid any roadblocks to building and sustaining long-term customer relationships.

Related: 5 Ways Your Agency Can Improve the Client Experience

Acquiring new customers is not only challenging, but expensive as well. It’s much more effective to spend time retaining the customers you have. By building strong customer relationships, entrepreneurs can protect their revenue and position their companies for growth and success despite operating in the competitive world of marketing, advertising and PR.

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