Chinese New Year, which begins tomorrow, is the Year of the Dog. Man’s best friend has always been known for its loyal characteristics, and when it comes to the Chinese Zodiac, things are no different. Preparing to celebrate this major Chinese cultural event made me think of the importance of loyalty in a client-agency relationship.
Some of the companies my agency works for have been clients for a long time, with several partnerships heading into their 14th and 15th years. For some that may seem like a lifetime, and in dog years (or internet years) it certainly is. Most of the time, successful agency relationships can be attributed to that fact that an agency goes above and beyond expectations and makes good things happen for their clients. A good agency understands the client as a friend and partner and takes a guiding role when needed.
Often these days, in a hypercompetitive business climate with threats to traditional business models from digital entrepreneurs and agile start-ups, we’re entrusted to help clients navigate business transformation and report to their executive boards. It’s not enough to simply be a catalyst of change anymore; we must dive deep into their business problems and devise practical solutions while simultaneously helping them build a culture of innovation.
Being at the forefront of technology gives an agency a bigger scope and helps futureproof their clients. A good example is taking a company’s simple website and growing it into a suite of digital platforms and touchpoints and expanding its businesses’ offerings and reach. From seasonal campaigns to website extensions to a mobile site – for instance a three-pronged digital platform of web, app and social media – helps ensure a client’s voice is heard and their work is seen across the world on different devices and touchpoints.
This is what I mean by going the extra mile and becoming a client’s loyal partner. To gain trust and build a bond, you need to work closely with clients and show them you’re committed to the bigger picture instead of simply providing short-term solutions. Clients always have different needs, but if you can demonstrate your value and vision, they’re more likely to stick with you in the long run.
Mixing creativity with technology and strategy is how to retain clients year after year. Yes, an agency can craft great ideas for clients’ successful campaigns week-to-week, but without applying intelligence and effort to deliver genuine business results, an agency’s value to clients will only be as short as the length of the campaign.
An agency’s ability to demonstrate long-term thinking shows how to build loyal parternships with clients. Utilizing their ability to craft innovative solutions that exceed expectations, success usually follows. Instead of simply giving them a one-off solution, agencies will do well to develop brand innovations that enable their clients to engage and connect with new audiences, enabling them to sell products in a more efficient and effective way.
We all know that dogs don’t have any real responsibilities, but the digital world is quite different. At the end of the day, being accountable and delivering tangible business value to clients and bringing together innovative experiences for consumers are what digital professionals strive for.
In the Year of the Dog, celebrate what’s great about your long-lasting agency-client relationships—traits like loyalty and honesty, and offering clients straightforward advice and smart thinking.
Another thing to celebrate? Great clients are an agency’s best friend.
Andrew Johnston is communications manager at Mirum Hong Kong.