The Renewal: How to Solidify the Client Relationship

May 15, 2014 by

The agency-client relationship is often short-lived, with most estimates falling around the three-year mark. In 2012, only 36% of marketers were firmly committed to their agency of record, and that likely remains true today.

There are many factors that come into play when evaluating why clients churn:

Agency Side:

  • Over promise, under deliver
  • Focus on outputs, not outcomes
  • Talent turnover
  • Weak processes
  • Financial instability
  • Stretched too thin
  • Stagnant business model
  • Siloed services

Client Side:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Weak foundation
  • Poor management
  • Lack of vision
  • Bad product
  • Financial instability
  • Short-term focus
  • Marketing technology deficiencies
  • Conservative culture/budgets
  • Personnel weaknesses

Make account retention and growth a priority at your agency by taking on the right clients, aligning expectations and focusing on performance.

Make Sure the Shoe Fits

Minimize your risk upfront with a thorough assessment of the prospect’s business and marketing cores, including, but not limited to:

  • Corporate culture
  • Financial stability
  • Competitive advantage
  • Growth goals
  • Leadership team
  • Brand
  • Website
  • Marketing mix
  • Marketing team
  • Technology utilization
  • Historical marketing performance

Use the information uncovered to better align expectations, dictate strategy and establish budgets. For example, you may need to invest in heavy foundational work upfront before you can guarantee results for the client. Have those conversations early to avoid surprises later.

You may also discover during your assessment that the prospect is not a good fit overall for your agency. Trust your instinct and be willing to walk away in those types of situations. Bad relationships can drain your agency of valuable resources, cause financial pains and lead to employee burnout and turnover.

Commit to Performance

Use data to measure your agency’s value to the client.

Through the smart use of analytics tools, agencies can measure how their campaigns tie to real business results (i.e., leads and sales). This type of closed-loop reporting makes it easier to justify your agency’s budget and value.

Permeate performance metrics into everything you do; examples include:

  • Tie all campaigns to performance metrics and target audiences. List primary and secondary key performance indicators (KPIs) and target goals when making strategic recommendations.
  • Put analytics tools in place to monitor what is and isn’t working.
  • Build custom scorecards to track campaign progress against goals.
  • Adapt strategies in real time based on performance metrics. Emulate top-performing campaigns; stop or update low-performing ones.
  • Work with client sales teams to ensure the smooth handoff between departments, and that leads are high quality and ready for outreach.
  • Create a client in residence, an internal senior consultant responsible for assessing campaign performance and challenging account team strategies.
  • Continue testing and learning. As new technologies and strategies emerge, don’t be afraid to test them and evolve what you’re doing. Just be sure that you have the tracking systems in place to measure the investment.


Use Data to Grow Accounts

An ongoing commitment to performance sets the stage for account retention and growth. Win repeat contracts and service package increases by demonstrating value and ROI through results-driven strategies and campaigns.

How does your agency approach client retention and growth? Share your experiences below.

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