Often potential clients that have never used an agency before will call to discuss their advertising and media needs. It takes a lot of patience on both sides because the potential client knows they need help but typically doesn’t know much more. They have done their internal social and digital media and it has gotten them to a certain point, but inevitably they hit a ceiling and can’t seem to grow past that point.
So, where to begin? Usually, it’s with a list of questions the length of my arm and usually they have very few answers. But that’s okay, because it’s better that they have no preconceived notions, than to know just enough to be dangerous to themselves. So, it’s baby steps.
They’re either hoping that some pre-canned strategy will work or it’s the opposite and they’re looking for someone who will take everything they are saying into consideration before formulating any answer. My agency, A3 Media is the latter.
This takes time, typically several calls, followed by rounds of follow-up questions, before laying out any plan at all. But the most important part of the process falls into three categories, patience, honesty, and listening intently.
Patience is necessary to get through their goals, honesty to tell them what they need to hear, not necessarily want to hear and listening to find into between it all, their true problems, strengths, and desires. Telling the truth can be a double edge sword, but I would rather die on the sword, then stab a client with it. But that’s okay because it’s truly the way it should be.
Running an agency not only means I’m a “media guy” but a professional consultant and consultants are paid for their expertise. It can be a daunting task to get through vetting a new perspective client and no agency wins them all, but when you take the necessary steps from the first conversation on, you’re working to build a relationship and partnership and you’re doing it correctly.
Being a pushy salesperson works well for some. Not my speed. I prefer educating clients, so they have a deeper understanding of their needs and the proper solutions, based on understanding their business better and what our research uncovers.
An agency and client are forming a partnership, very much like a marriage. It needs to be built on honesty, transparency, understanding and trust. If any of those attributes are missing, then it’s going to be a match made in “HELL”!