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Building client relationships

Written by Claire Scaramanga

Marketing is such a people business. For one thing, it helps to be a good communicator! This is even truer when you are on the service side of the business in an agency environment.

As a marketing consultant at Scaramanga Marketing, the relationship management and account building side of the business is key. It also often brings me into contact with many other suppliers in the marketing industry, particularly creative services. And it amazes me how poor some of these people are at interpersonal skills and managing client relationships.

If you’ve come up through a large agency, as I did, handling clients will be second nature to you, but for those of you coming from the creative side and looking to start your own business, or if you’re looking to move into the agency world, here are a few hints!

  • Don’t be precious about your creative work – the great end result will be something that meets your client’s brief
  • Get the brief right – sometimes clients need some help writing briefs and it’s in your interest to help them, because then you can get your creative right
  • Manage expectations – it’s always a good idea to under promise just a little, then over deliver. If you’ve hit a problem or a delay, let the client know in advance so they know where they stand
  • The customer is always right – you won’t gain anything by telling them they’re wrong (apart from annoying them). Open up other possibilities for them to consider, point out consequences of what they’re suggesting, guide them to alternatives. This should help them move away from a wrong route, yet still think the choice was theirs
  • No nasty surprises – always manage your budgets carefully and if there will be extra costs, let the client know in advance so they can agree it. Nothing leads to relationship breakdown more quickly than money disputes

Time spent in building the relationship pays many dividends, not least a more enjoyable working life!