We work in a tough business environment. Accountability, multiplying media, evolving technology and an increasingly global economy all drive client demand for more responsive, more efficient agencies. This tends to contribute to a “what have you done for me lately” mindset that agencies have to struggle with every day. It saps your strength and kills your enthusiasm.
Yet there are agencies that find a way to counteract this new client attitude. They do it by tooting their own horns—regularly promoting their efforts on behalf of their clients.
This is a concept shared many years ago by a Second Wind member who had several long-held accounts that were very happy with the agency relationship and looked likely to be just as happy five years down the road.
“We work hard for the client’s success,” said this agency principal. “We constantly look for new opportunities, evaluate their competition, talk to the channel, audit customers and serve as proactive consultants for business growth every single day. We are deeply involved in our clients’ planning processes, and are advocates for brand-centric decision-making. We give the client everything they want, but more importantly, we give them what they NEED.
“Even so, with all the business challenges our clients face, what we do can be devalued all too easily,” she continued. “That is why we do an ‘annual report letter’ to every client, recapping our dual successes, and looking forward to plans for the immediate future.”
In this letter, our enterprising principal reiterates client goals for the previous year. Then she recounts how well those goals were achieved, and by what degree they were surpassed. She reviews new initiatives implemented during the year, and discusses where those could lead in the coming year. She touts awards won, recognition received and positive customer feedback recorded—then she thanks the client for the many opportunities to do great work for a great company.
She concludes with a request to schedule their planning meeting for next year, touches on a current project, and suggests taking advantage of a new situation developing in the industry.
“We have some ideas about that and look forward to sharing them with you,” she writes, before closing with a warm wish for continuing success as strategic partners.
Clients uniformly respond to these “reminders” of agency prowess and proficiency with a willingness to move forward in tandem with the agency. Perhaps a more subtle effect is the positive emotions the annual report letter generates in her clients. The letter serves not just to promote agency success, but to give the client an emotional “boost” by reflecting on their success. Everyone enjoys a pat on the back for a job well done. And the glow from that feeling can linger and spread to the benefit of everyone in the vicinity.
Since our principal began using this self-promotion strategy, she has garnered more work from existing clients, increased annual billings by 20 percent, and doubled the size of her agency. Better yet, she is now able to select those new accounts she wants to work with, instead of having to turn out for every cattle call or RFP that hits her desk. She even has new clients seeking out her agency, the result of positive word of mouth by her happy clients, and her own continuous publicity efforts.
She attributes much of this success to self-promoting every positive aspect of her client relationships.
“A wise man once said, ‘They’ll never know they love you if you don’t tell them so.’ So I tell my clients why they love us as often as I can,” said our canny principal.
Try sending annual report letters to your clients. This is a terrific, feel-good tactic that can reap benefits far beyond your imagination.