“What makes a good client a good client?” is a question we often get from business prospects — not only but especially from prospects who have never worked with an agency. Follow up questions go something like, “What do you expect from us as a client?” and “How can we help you do your job?”
Prospects who ask these questions are typically very insightful. They know, for example, that a collaborative client is much more apt to get the very best from their agency vs. the client-type who thinks of their agency as a vendor.
Any professional agency worth its salt will strive to give clients what they are paying for. But the best clients get the very best work from their agency partner.
Here’s what good clients do that’s different
- They appreciate their account team as an extension of their internal team, or in the case of many start-ups, as THE internal team. Plenty of prospects will tell an agency that’s how they prefer to work. But after the work begins, sometimes the walls go up and the agency is on the outside looking in. That’s a bad approach and is unproductive for the agency and client.
- Question. Question. Question. Sometimes, an agency can tend to think that clients share their level of understanding of how earned, owned, shared and paid media works, why a blog post might work better than a news release for a particular project, or why a specific development doesn’t deserve to be promoted at all. Good clients are inquisitive clients, and they shouldn’t hesitate to question their agency’s counsel if they don’t completely understand it.
- Good clients celebrate team victories and commiserate with their account team when things don’t always go as well as planned. Some finger pointing is inevitable at times as over the course of a long relationship, things will go wrong on occasion. Good clients, and good agencies, get that.
- The best clients open the company kimono to their agency. Every company has its warts and dirty laundry. When an agency knows where all of the client’s skeletons are buried, the agency can more confidently represent the client. A “no surprises” relationship works both ways.
- Good clients are cognizant of an agency’s desire to “please” and thus keep an eye on “scope creep.” There are occasions when a client may non-nonchalantly start piling on projects that are above and beyond the original scope of work — and budget. Agencies want to keep their clients happy and oftentimes take on the additional work without a peep. Overtime, however, there’s the risk of resentment settling in. Just like the client, running an agency is a business and profits are what keeps it afloat.
- The world’s best clients get that most superstar companies don’t become that overnight. Reputation building, credibility, track records, sustainability, customer success stories, thought leadership and hard work– all are the building blocks of a story with legs.
If you’re on the client side of this discussion, what are your “good client” best practices? If you’re on the agency side of the house, please feel free to share what makes your good clients so good!