Sunday, September 12, 2010

Clients and Culture

There is a marketing agency principal I know who brags to prospects that he missed the birth of his second child to handle a client requirement.  He uses that anecdote to illustrate the commitment of his firm.

Over the years, I've been asked in three competitive review situations whether I mirror that level of client intensity.   To this I always agree that my competitor is committed...or, in my opinion, should be.

In our new business presentations, one of the initial topics we address are the principles that guide client representation and business decision-making at Strategic Communications Group (Strategic):

1.  Great work for great clients.

2.  An unwavering belief in work/life balance for our professional staff.

These principles are obviously related, and the second is reflected in our ultra-flexible work environment and management of team resources based on a 40 hour work week.

While I do translate for a prospect why these business principles produce a better outcome and ROI for their social media marketing campaigns, it is an unconventional approach to invest time in the sales process talking about us.  So, why do it?

Every (and I mean every) client/agency relationship has its share of stresses.  PR consultancies, ad shops, marketing providers or other professional services firms that state its clients are always a true pleasure to work for are either delusional, full of s**t or both.

There are going to be disagreements in strategy and execution, breakdowns in communication that impact the work product and misaligned expectations.  In many ways an effective professional relationship is comparable to a successful marriage.  It takes compromise, mutual understanding and (in some instances) forgiveness.

That's why I talk about what is important to us in a client engagement at the initial meeting.  Yes...we're passionate about the clients we represent and appreciative of the opportunities they afford us to deliver great work.

Yet, we never shirk from standing true to our core beliefs.  And we recognize that we're not an appropriate fit for every client.


1 comment:

cparente said...

Good post Marc. Speaking as a former client who is now at Strategic, I can say that the focus on work/life balance pays off for clients through less burn out, and client team churn. I hated that a few years back, it really disrupts the tactical execution when you lose account assistants and leads on a regular basis.