At Happy Marketer, as much as we advocate brands to adopt a “Customer-first” strategy, we practise a “Client-first” approach too, when it comes to managing our client accounts. By putting clients at the core of our business model, we provide services keeping their objectives and interests at the forefront, which eventually helps to foster happy and healthy working relationships. But does this approach always ensure things to be hunky-dory on the client side?
Hi there! Welcome back to my series of blogs where I am going to discuss with you six key challenges faced on a day-to-day basis by consultants who manage client accounts. Having given you an overview of these challenges in my last blog - ‘A Strategic Framework To Succeed As A Digital Consultant’, today I’m going to dive deeper into the first challenge about how to manage people on your client side when you are starting a new project or working with a new set of folks in your client team.
First and foremost, let’s agree on the fact that one can’t ALWAYS make their spouse and clients happy (consultants will relate to this as they spend more hours with their clients than their spouses on a weekly basis ;)). Having said this, at Happy Marketer, when things are not really happy on the client’s end we put ourselves in their shoes and figure out where they are coming from, and why they are making certain requests or responding in a particular way.
Given the opportunity to manage a good number of clients, I too went through a similar phase of understanding the challenges and figuring out the possible ways to alleviate them. Here I will be sharing a few situations that have occurred more than once and are hence on the top of my mind.
1. “Happy Marketer is here to AUDIT our work and pinpoint at the loopholes.”
Not every time when the client’s top management brings us onboard to do an “audit” of their past digital marketing activities, does their brand team welcome us with open arms. To them, we appear as auditors who have come to rock their boat and highlight the mistakes that they had made in their previous campaigns.
Well, that’s not really our approach at Happy Marketer when we propose to do an audit. The process basically entails helping the client to understand and appreciate the fantastic work that they have been doing all this while, improve on the parameters that will help the brand to achieve the key marketing/business goals and introduce them to what’s new in the market/ strategies that are being implemented by their competitors.
From many of the audit projects that we have done, one common realization is that the client’s internal/brand team becomes a tad bit uncomfortable on hearing the word “audit”. Therefore, what we have started to do is use an alternative term - “review & analysis” with the aim of reducing the anxiety levels of the client.
2. “Happy Marketer’s results might threaten our KPIs.”
One of the many reasons why there are constant conflicts between the consulting agency and the client’s brand team is one team wanting to outdo the other when it comes to reporting to the client’s top management.
I have heard of situations where the client’s brand team has presented ideas and strategies to their top management that were initially shared by the agency, without giving the right credits, leaving the agency at a loss for words. Quite strange, isn’t it?
Therefore, to avoid such situations, we work towards creating a symbiotic relationship between us and the client’s brand team and get their buy-in from day 1. Through engagements during and outside work hours, we let them know (quite subtly) that we understand their fears and professional motivations (as long as they are fair), and keep them involved at every step so that they get a fair share to live up to their bosses expectations and meet their KPIs (key performance indicators).
3. “Happy Marketer is an external villain.”
It is not surprising to realise that the client’s internal team that may be already intimidated by the presence of an “external” agency may have reservations in sharing data or information.
In such situations what really helps is regular working sessions with the client where we make the first move to break the ice and get into a fun-happy-friendly working relationship, giving them the feeling that we are not external consultants who are here to snatch away their jobs but we are really a part of their team.
Taking a quick slight diversion as I’m talking about data/info: Given that we are a data-driven agency, one principle that we strictly follow is to not take any data dump for granted. We always verify ‘wants’ placed on our plate because there are chances that the client might not be tracking data efficiently.
So there you go, three key situations from the perspective of new client management that I was able to dig out from the past year that’s gone by. I’m sure you would have witnessed many such (similar/different) situations while working with your clients. Let me know what they were and how creatively you were able to handle them by sharing your comments below. :)