Waking the Sleeping Client

Why Clients “Go Quiet” and How to Reactivate Them

New clients are hard to find.  It is crucial to keep your current clients engaged and active. Here’s the scenario: you (the account service manager, agency CEO, and/or creative guru) have been told by your client that they need to suspend their marketing programs temporarily. Your formerly active client cites budget cuts, personnel changes, corporate reorganization and so on, as a few of the reasons behind this break in marketing activity.

As an agency, what can your team do to reactivate a client or account that has, “gone quiet”? Here are some ideas on how to wake up your sleeping clients.

Get In Touch

Your agency should actively reach out to the client at different levels of the organization, including top-level contact from the agency principal to the client CEO or CMO to find out what is happening at the client’s business. Also, the account service person should call their client peer to probe about why the account is inactive. Talk on the phone, set up a meeting, and get back in touch. You need to make sure you understand the client’s big picture.

It’s Not You, It’s Me?

Make sure that you didn’t “lose the business” over something that your agency, or one of your employees, did or failed to do. By communicating with the client through different channels, you can inquire to make sure that the pause in business isn’t your fault. If it is, you can find out what happened and work to remedy it. If your agency did everything right, but the account is still taking a hiatus, you need to know that too. Asking these sorts of questions will help you determine what needs to be done to restart the relationship… or confirm that it’s time to replace the business.

Find Out What Happened

If you want this client back, you must understand their new issues. Something happened to shift their position on spending money with your firm. Did their industry change? Did their product lines change? Did their margins go down? Are they facing new competition? Did they go through a management change? By investing the time to understand what is new about the client’s situation, you can start to craft new solutions for your slumbering friend.

Maybe, instead of cutting back on marketing, they need a whole new game plan to rebrand products and services, restart their advertising, or come up with a whole new way of doing business. If you can help them understand their marketplace, you can position your agency as part of their solution.

We Miss You

Surely you are familiar with postcards or emails from any number of retailers that say something along the lines of, “We’ve missed you and we want you back.” These are usually accompanied by an offer or incentive—a code for 20% off your next purchase, for example. What if your agency could do the same type of campaign to reactivate snoozing accounts? Send your sleeping clients an email or a postcard saying that you miss their business, and offer an incentive or discount on their next project or program with your agency. Sometimes, it’s all the motivation a person (or client) needs to make a purchase.

Push Your Agency Newsletter or Blog

Push your newsletter or blog, full of thought-leading content, to your clients on a regular basis. Consider including a special promotion for sign ups, including free or discounted services from your agency. You can also share your agency milestones and media coverage with your clients. This gives your agency a chance to thank clients for being part of your success—and they’ll feel good about having hired you. Highlight news you think might specifically interest inactive clients in a personal note or email. Make sure your former clients know that you are still doing great things for other clients and are there for them too, when they are ready to ramp things back up.

Socialize With Your Clients

Ideally you are already engaging in social media both with and for your clients, but let’s say it anyway: make sure you are connecting regularly with your clients via social media. Engage with them, follow them, invite them to follow you, share links with them, comment on their blog posts, retweet their Twitter links, recommend them through LinkedIn, etc. Offer your clients suggestions for how they present themselves on social media, and make sure your agency is following its own social advice.

Ask For a Wish List

Ask clients who have gone quiet to make a wish list for their business. What are their hopes and dreams when it comes to marketing, branding and sales? Wishes are not that different from goals. As an agency, your job is to help them get there.


Maybe your clients’ needs have changed and the relationship is no longer going to work. Breaking up is hard to do, but you won’t know where you stand with your clients until you ask. Getting feedback about your agency, positive and negative, can help make your agency better, and help you keep the clients you do have, happy. Even after clients leave, keep an open line of communications—you never know when a client may choose to return.

Wide Awake

As an agency, your goal should be to not let accounts go quiet in the first place. You can keep accounts active through regular service and proactive marketing proposals. Cherish your clients; keeping clients active and in the loop should be an agency priority. The more you communicate and engage with your clients, the more business they will be likely to steer your way. Happy and active clients will also lead to increased referrals and positive word-of-mouth.

Go the extra mile, look for ways to help clients grow their businesses, and always keep them top of mind. Remember, if your client is struggling, your agency should be there to help them keep their business not only awake but kicking.