There’s nothing quite like a new romance.
That’s true when you start dating special someone, and—if you work at a PR agency—it’s the case when you land a new client. The first month in a new work engagement is a once-in-a-lifetime period when you have the chance to cement your firm as that amazing, irreplaceable partner your client can’t live without.
So how do you do it? How can you make your client fall desperately, madly “in love” with your agency?
When you’re dating someone new, you might plan a romantic night out, send sweet text messages, or surprise the person with flowers (or all of the above). Clearly, that’s not going to cut it at work. But here are five simple ways to show your new client that you really care. You’ll notice they’re not too different from what works in your love life, too.
1. Plan for the future
Remember that fuzzy feeling when your new love interest casually discussed making plans with you a month, or six, into the future? That shows he or she thinks (or hopes) you’ll still be an item down the road. Same goes with your new client. Develop short-, mid- and long-term priorities for its business, and create a roadmap to get the company there.
Thinking in the future, and not just for the next few months, shows the client that you’re committed to being its trusted partner for the long haul. Chances are, the client will start thinking about your agency in the same way.
2. Always over deliver
Expecting your new catch to cook you a simple pasta dinner, but he or she impresses with a three-course meal that would give Mario Batali a run for his money? Take that concept and apply it to your client work.
For example, if your client asks you to identify notable bloggers in its space, don’t stop once you’re stumbled upon the top writers. Find out their reach. Read previous posts from the last several months to spot anything that might be helpful—or harmful—to your client. Note who is on their blog roll, and where else their posts are published. Dig a little deeper to figure out the blogger’s background. In other words, go above and beyond what your client is expecting.
No matter the assignment, make sure your agency is thorough and accurate. But even more important, take that extra step to deliver a project your new client will adore.
3. Surprise them with one big idea
Surprise your new client with one great, unexpected idea “just because.” It shows that even while you’re killing it with the tasks to get the account up and running, you’re still thinking big
about its business. To clients, getting creative, strategic ideas from senior agency leadership without asking for it is like receiving flowers just because it’s Tuesday.
4. Show you have dollars and “sense”
You wouldn’t ask someone out to dinner and let him or her pay the check (if you want a second date, that is). You don’t want any surprises over money with your new client, either.
It may sound petty, but accounts are lost over billing issues. Make sure your client knows how much its first invoice will be (and why) before sending it. And be sure your agency’s invoices are easy to understand and accurate, and that they’re sent on time. Seems simple, but lots of agencies fall surprisingly short on this one.
5. Spend quality time together
There’s something special about spending time with your client in person. In a business culture dominated by teleconferences, getting out of your office and into your client’s for the day is the only sure-fire way to build that collegial “we’re in this together” feeling. Relationships are about connecting with people on a personal level. It’s true in dating, and it’s true in business.
So take the time out of your schedule, and make it a point to see your client face-to-face in the first few weeks of a new assignment—even if you need to do it on your agency’s dime. It’ll be worth the investment.
The Bottom Line
If you put in the effort in the beginning of your new client relationship, you’ll set your agency up for that “storybook ending” we all hope for—a happy, long-term client partner that adores your firm.
Share your best tips to get clients to fall in love with your agency.
Michele Baer is senior vice president and head of the New Jersey practice at Feinstein Kean Healthcare. She is also an adjunct professor of communication at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @michelebaer.