I spend a lot of time at client meetings, mastermind events and in Facebook groups talking to other agency owners about what they can do to reach new clients. To acquire new business. To generate new leads.
Now, of course, I recognize the importance of all of these conversations and what they mean to building the business that we’re all trying to build.
But, humor me for a minute.
Is there a chance that sometimes we’re focusing on the wrong aspect of building our agency? What if we had a shift in mindset? What if, just for today…or this week…or this month…we need to set our sights on our current clients?
I’d be willing to bet there are some of us out there that have been so hell-bent on going after new business that current clients have taken a bit of a back seat.
We’ve got some tips, tactics, and ideas below that we think will help you re-engage your current clients and develop the kind of loyalty that produces a greater ROI for your business…while actually costing you less in the long run.
Sink or Swim With Onboarding
First thing’s first. Do you have a specific onboarding process in place? If not, and you’ve had issues engaging businesses and getting them to buy into your strategies, we may have just identified why.
From your very first interactions with your clients, it’s extremely important to develop a rapport…be a good listener…learn what makes them tick…listen to what they want and need.
With new clients, you want to get a feel for how they like to communicate. But that’s not all.
You want to know what their schedule is like – try giving them a call at different times of the day to see when they’re most likely to be slammed and when you’ll be able to have better conversations with them.
You want to know what their response time is like – shoot them a few initial emails to get a feel for when you can typically expect a response.
You want to know how deep your access goes – when you’re comfortable, send a few basic business texts to get an idea if they prefer that route.
You may even want to get an idea for their proficiency – try inviting them into a slack conversation and test those waters.
It’s also extremely important that you spend time in your initial conversations diving deep into the areas in which they need the most help. Ask them what they feel their business does well and where they fall short.
Maybe they’re really good at acquiring initial business but struggle with client retention? Or perhaps they have done a good job developing a website but have no idea how to use it generate leads?
From there, onboarding is about highlighting the services you offer and working to create specific services that uniquely cater to their needs.
Create a custom checklist to use with all your clients. This will allow you to build a road map for you and your client to follow throughout the early stages of your agreement. Depending on the niche you’re working with, the list may vary, but there are a handful of items an onboarding checklist should include, regardless of the specific client:
- Introduction and welcome
- Record all pertinent client business info
- Get contract and any additional documents signed
- Set goals for your partnership
- Build communication guidelines for how and when to expect deliverables
- Develop a detailed plan for execution
- Conduct follow-up calls to insure expectations are met
When it becomes time to get into contracts, you’ll want to be very clear and organized as it pertains to your service agreement.
Similar to the onboarding checklist, your contract will vary by client, but there are some elements most every contract will need to include, such as:
- Contact info for both parties
- Scope of the project(s)
- Payment terms
- Deadline schedule
- Termination stipulations
- Copyright ownership
Looking for help with contracts? “The Contracts You Need for Client Work” inside Digital Agency Insiders Mastermind is a great place to start!
Starting with a solid, precise contract not only looks good to your clients but will end up saving you major headaches down the road.
But, be sure to use this onboarding time to properly articulate your value. You have to find your sweet spot between the work you’re putting in and what your client can reasonably pay – and every client is different. Don’t sell yourself short but be sure not to price yourself out, either.
When developing the scope of work, establish a standard amount that you know your work is worthwhile also determining the amount of time you are going to be required to devote to each element. At the end of the day, your goal is to provide a valuable service that is profitable for you and your client.
Watch Your Feedback
One of the biggest challenges any agency can face is identifying how their clients truly feel about the service they’re receiving.
Make it a part of your weekly to-do list to check in with your clients. An email, a phone call, a handwritten letter, or some combination of all of them will work wonders in retaining them.
Ask them what they are pleased with. Ask what you can do better.
It can be as simple as “Hey, Mr. XYZ! I just wanted to check in with you to get your thoughts on our services thus far. Have you seen an increase in business? Are there further services you wish our team would provide?”
You want to be truly engaged in constant, two-way communication with your clients. Continuously sharing wins and losses and developing strategic action plans for turning losses into future wins.
Some clients are going to be better than others when it comes to communicating with you, so there will be times when your team will have to be proactive in communication. Just a quick touch could teach you a lot.
Sounds simple right?
Not always. Issues arise. Service sometimes falls short.
But, in those cases, it’s how you respond that determines your value going forward. Someone smart once told me that if you treat every complaint as a gift or opportunity, you will always succeed in service.
If something less than desirable goes down, meet it head-on. Fix the issue and maybe throw in a little added value on the back-end to strengthen the relationship.
For example, say your team gets their wires crossed and an email campaign goes out late. The minute the error is found, you should pick up the phone and call your client, immediately apologizing. Before you get off the phone, say something along the lines of “Mr. XYZ, I appreciate your understanding in regards to our error and to show you our appreciation, I’d like to offer you XYZ discounted service.”
Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Wouldn’t you want to do business with someone who fixes an issue, apologizes, and provides added-value afterward? Yep, me too.
Strong strategies for addressing short-comings will ultimately make your clients feel like they are engaged in a real partnership.
Blow Their Minds With Convenience
Chances are, no matter which niche you’re dealing with, your clients are probably too busy to carry out some of their day-to-day tasks. And you never want a scenario where they feel the need to follow-up with you to strategize about next moves. It’s our job to be proactive.
I wish I could count how many of my initial calls or visits with businesses began with them essentially complaining that they simply don’t have the time to go out and find new business.
I’m sure you’re the same. When prospecting your clients, you likely promoted your ability to make their businesses grow. You probably vowed to save them the hassle that can sometimes accompany generating new business leads.
So, now you get to the fun part…the part where you get to deliver.
What service are you providing them that gives them that *sigh* or completely wipes away their daily headache?
What difficult task have you taken off their plate that also served to improve their business?
Heck…improve their LIFE.
It’s as easy as picking up the phone.
“Mr. XYZ, you’ve mentioned how stressful it is to your team to go out and get new business. What if I told you we have a service that will wipe that stress away? Our agency has had some major success with other clients using some great lead generation tactics that only require you to keep doing what you do best. With your permission, I’d love to put those tactics to work for you.”
They’re busy running a business and obviously want or need your help building it – what can you do to make it easy on them?
Widen the Gap Between You and the Competition
A little competition is good for the business soul.
I mean, let’s think about it: Coke vs Pepsi. McDonald’s vs Burger King. Oh, how about Mac vs PC.
Ok, ok, let’s not get off subject here.
Point is, 100% of you reading this post have an opinion in each of those debates. People love competition.
And, in your case, you’re probably not the only game in town.
So, it becomes vitally important that you focus on what makes you different from your competition. (Essentially, this is the essence of keeping your clients coming back for more.)
All these years that Burger King has been fighting it out with McDonald’s, have you ever wondered how they’ve held their own? It’s certainly not because they make the best food on earth. It’s the service promise they’ve banked on for years – “Have it Your Way.” It’s more than just a slogan and is meant to convey that, unlike their competitors, you can order and enjoy a burger just the way you like it.
So think about your agency. What’s your hook?
What are your strengths and how are you maximizing? Conversely, what are your weaknesses and how are you minimizing?
What are you doing to over-deliver on your promise?
When you set goals with your clients in the contract phase, say to yourself “I promised this client 20 leads per week, but I’m going to deliver 25.” Every step you take to exceed expectations makes you stand out.
You want to constantly find ways to provide value – if you don’t, someone else will.
Commit to doing some of the “little things” that your competition is probably lacking – call them on birthdays or anniversaries, show up to your meetings with surprise gifts or shoot them an email with an occasional surprise discounted service.
Providing your client with value doesn’t necessarily have to cost you money, either. Be a resource for them on all aspects of their business, not just the ones they’re paying you for.
Always Be Educating
Just because they’re now your client doesn’t mean you shouldn’t always be trying to close the deal.
You want to present that your team is just as much a consultant as it is an agency. Show your client what makes you an expert in their niche and what you’ve learned throughout your relationship that makes you the expert for them.
Whether you’ve initially offered a single service or multiple services, it’s always a good idea to provide periodic updates to those services. Take the time to inform them about long-term investment opportunities through your partnership.
A great time to provide these updates is when you’re following up with clients about your performance. If they’re excited about increases they’re seeing, why not throw in a line like “I’m so happy this service is performing so well for you. You know, since this one has done so well, I have another service that I think would make perfect sense for your business, too.”
Not only have you educated them, you’ve up-sold them on additional services. Win-win.
You can even go the extra strategic mile and develop offers and promotions on their behalf.
Say you’re working with a local dentist who is just beginning to see increased leads due to your agency’s work. You could suggest something like “How about offering a free teeth-whitening to customers who refer new customers?”
Your clients will love it if you show them that you are just as dedicated as they are to growing their business.
Further education can be provided to your clients by adding them to your email newsletter. This gives you an opportunity to share the updates that you’re working on and show them how they can continually benefit from the services you’re providing.
Send them a monthly newsletter to share some recent wins your team has had, a new service your team is offering and a personal client testimony. This will do a lot to strengthen your partnership.
Include your clients in social media conversations that not only show your knowledge, but prove your willingness to learn from your peers. Nearly every day, my team is fully engaged with digital agency owners on social media and you’d be amazed at how much information is being willfully shared.
Post blogs supporting the services you’re providing with case studies of their successful performances.
We’ve even recorded webinars to share new services we’re developing and our clients love them.
Establishing trust with your clients that you’re doing everything in your power to increase their business will no doubt gain you more.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of a “Thank You”
It’s something that has been ingrained in our minds since we were kids…any time we were given a toy…or a piece of candy…we were taught to say thank you. (Well, most of us, anyway.)
Yet, I bet you’d be shocked at how many agency owners leave this part out.
These clients are literally paying our paychecks – why wouldn’t we want them to know they’re appreciated?
At the end of the day, we’re all building a brand for our agency. Don’t you want your agency associated with those that actually thank their clients for their hard-earned money?
I know I do.
When my clients think of me or my agency, I want them to remember the times when I acknowledged their hard work, their dedication and their business relationships they’ve built with us.
Maybe it’s a hand-written note? “Mr. XYZ, I just wanted to drop you a line to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for partnering with our agency.”
Maybe it’s just a quick phone call? “Thank you, Mr. XYZ, for trusting our agency to be a part of watching your incredible business grow. We can’t wait to see what’s still to come!”
Maybe it’s a small gift? During your client meetings, pay attention to what makes them tick on a personal level, as well as a professional one. If they seem to really like one certain restaurant, take them to lunch. If they always have music playing in their office, get them an iTunes gift card. If they have kids, get them tickets to the newest animated movie.
The more personal, the better.
I once was on a phone call with a client who was talking about all the chaos in the office that week. I purchased and sent her a shirt that said “Chaos Coordinator” with a hand-written note that said “Just thought you should know I was very impressed with how you handle your office’s chaos and make it look so easy. I’m here if you ever need anything.”
You can never say thank you enough. I suggest a monthly email, phone call or hand-written note. Then, I would seek to send them a small, personal gift once per quarter.
It’s probably the simplest aspect of keeping your clients coming back for more. And, at the same time, probably the most ignored.