In my 17 years of career, I have dabbled in various roles - from advertising to being an entrepreneur to heading the marketing function of a start up life insurance company. But primarily at heart, I have always remained and will remain a Account Management person. Over the years I have handled marque accounts such as Unilever to small entrepreneur led businesses. No matter what the category is or how big the account size is, one thing that is key to success has been great client relationships.
I am going to list down 5 golden rules of relationship building I have learnt over the years. While they all seem pretty obvious, unfortunately, with time, we tend to forget the golden rules and my effort behind the blogpost is not be preachy but perhaps reminding myself of the rules too.
1. Building Credibility
We are in the business of selling something intangible. We sell ideas. Clients don't get to see the final product before they have coughed up millions of Rupees and committed themselves to the idea. They are bound to be hesitant about buying something unseen or unheard of before. Our primary task is to build credibility for ourselves, our creative partners and of course, the agency we work for. Credibility can only come from one place - consistent delivery and performance. Its a tough one. But once we earn it, rest is cake walk.
2. Passion for Client's Business
This sounds like a cliché. But the truth is, more we know about our Client's business, the more they feel we understand their world and can really help them. Secondly, sometimes, we get so caught up in delivering day to day that we lose perspective of the over all picture. We efficiently deliver but seldom pause to think if what we are doing is effective. Understanding of effectiveness comes only with the understanding of client's business.
3. Mutual Respect
A healthy Client - Agency relationship is one in which there is a space and opportunity for debates and disagreements. But oftentimes we lose respect for one another because 'we' were right, and 'they' were wrong, 'we' had a great idea 'they' refused to buy, 'we' are not treated as partners. If we believe that there is no 'us' and there is no 'them' but just a group of people working towards a common goal, we will learn to respect one another.
Agency and Client relationship should be about doing the right things for the brand. The day we put awards before solutions for the client, we will lose the relationship. Similarly, if we don't flag off a wrong decision, we are not being accountable to the brand.
5. Great Work
Last but not the least - we must always put the best work on the table. Clients hire us to do what they can't do. Its our job to guard against lazy work, safe work, uninspiring work. It is our job to to ensure the work connects with consumers and above all, the work drives business results.
Great relationships make an Agency stand out. A great relationship leads to great work which builds reputation and consequently recommendations. Great relationships make us feel good about the work we do. above all it offers a second chance, no matter what.