Lessons Learned: The Client Thing

Over my Incredibly Successful Career (ISC) at the inter-galactic agencies my role was often counseling clients. From those experiences I learned a few things about what it takes to take care of clients and still be respected the next day in the agency.  Then I became a client for a few years.  It validated everything I learned in those years in the agency world. 

It’s ironic that in college there are no classes in account management.  There are classes in writing, production, art, media and even a campaigns class but really almost nothing about the critical role of client relations.  Here then are some of my lessons learned that I found worked for me.  As always, these are written in the hopes that a few of you will benefit from all my mistakes. 

A client once told me:  “I expect you to create great communications and get stuff done.    But what I really value is the occasional business-building idea.  If you can give me a unique insight that will help my business I will always reward that.”

In no particular order here are some lessons learned.  I realize these may seem like cliches and pretty basic.  Yet, over and over again I found myself extracting the agency from problems that could have been prevented by following these principles.  

  • Give insight.  We are paid for getting stuff done on time and within budget.  We will become wealthy by providing insight.  Provide thinking that causes the client to say:  “I didn’t think of that.” 
  • Know more.  At minimum, clients expect us to know their business.  Think about new ways to take their companies to market, find new audiences,  find different applications for their products or services and ultimately help them generate new revenue streams.  Give the client evidence that the idea will work. 
  • Be consumer/customer advocates.  We should provide clients with a unique perspective on their customers.  If we merely parrot back what they already know they will find someone else to provide counsel.  Be the one who knows how to take the client’s words and translate them into language the consumers value.
  • Provide counsel, not ads.  Be business counselors, not ad makers, press releasers or social media geeks.  Provide solutions to business problems that embrace all marketing disciplines.  Know how to launch products and build brands and understand the difference. 
  • Understand the business of business.  We are more valuable when we understand how business works. Our alertness to the trends in the financial markets as they relate to our clients will make us more useful.  Most important is understanding how our clients make money and what their financial end game is.
  • Have a world view.  Many of us and our clients suffer from marketing myopia.  We need to be relentless about seeking information outside our industry and theirs.  By exposing ourselves to thinking from disparate industries we gain a new perspective and are thus able to provide smarter counsel.
  • Lead. Don’t wait for the phone to ring.  Anticipate.  Wonder what the client is worrying about and prevent a crisis.  Have grace under pressure and be the center of calm when chaos is unfolding.  Be the one thinking clearly, being decisive and inspiring everyone.
  • Be Passionate.  Truly great work is often an emotional creation and driven by people who come to work each day with a passion for what they do.  The business is hard enough even with passion.  Each day you should be excited about somehow having an effect on your client’s business.  When you have that passion it can be infectious.  And that’s a good thing.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Maybe there are classes in such things. There could be if you’d teach one.


  2. Hey, always happy to pontificate. We can talk Thursday


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