You've spent the past few months sending emails, talking on the phone, and doing "meet and greets". You created a proposal, tweaked the proposal, and wrote up a contract. Finally, the deal is done, and you've got a new client to add to your roster.
Now comes the difficult part.
You've spent the past months convincing the client how great your team is: they communicate well, they adhere to deadlines, they're creative ... all the reasons why the client will be extremely happy working with your brand. You have to live up to those standards.
You need to focus in on the priority items that make a big impact when starting a new relationship. If you are looking for ideas, consider what these marketing agencies deem the No. 1 priority when beginning a partnership.
Focus on the Foundation
We believe in foundation before creation above all else. You shouldn’t jump into campaign asset and marketing actions until you have an intimate knowledge of the customer, their target personas, and their goals. With the priority set on evaluating and developing the foundation first, all of your content and promotion will be more targeted and effective.
The first priority item is diving into their data to get a firm understanding of where they are today so that we can work to set realistic goals. This is often done with a look into their site analytics, an inventory of their current content and the paths to that content, and if organic search is important to them, an audit of their site from an SEO and potentially local SEO perspective. Without the numbers, it’s difficult to have a strategic conversation that’s based in reality.
We won’t do anything -- whether it’s a web design project or a full inbound retainer -- until we’ve written buyer persona stories for our clients. Every little piece that goes into the overarching strategy, from keywords to content to web design, relies on understanding whom our clients are trying to attract. But once we have those buyer personas fully fleshed out, the ball just keeps rolling from there.
The first 'priority' item we address when a new client comes on board is the sales to delivery team hand-off meeting. We want to get all the notes and expectations from the sales person before we go into our kick-off call so that the transition is super smooth and the client isn’t repeating things he already covered in the sales process.
What’s the most effective way to communicate with them? After all, there’s going to be a lot of information moving around. Some of it will be detailed, some conceptual. Some will require their action, some review, and some simply awareness. Nothing will disrupt great work like broken communication, so the first step is to agree on tempo, tools, protocols, and preferences for communication.
The first priority is to quantify the client’s marketing goals and determine if their stated objective makes sense in the 'real world.' Are their hopes and dreams aligning with what is necessary to deliver results that will actually make a difference for them?
It’s not unusual for a client to say 'we need better brand recognition' or 'we want to be found in search engines' without having defined what this really means for their business. We work with clients in some highly specialized scientific markets, so it’s not always realistic to think that search engine traffic will deliver a huge number of visitors when the potential target audience for their specific offering is maybe 100,000 people in the entire world.
The key is to identify the specific behaviors and differentiators that are important to their specific audience -- to nail the personas --and then nurture these relationships in an authentic and quantifiable way.
Our top priority item is to get a launch meeting or call on the books with our point of contact and the key members of their leadership team. It might sound relatively cliché to start off with a meeting, but it’s been fundamental to creating smooth relationships built around clear expectations and honesty.
We generally cover several topics including: exchanging introductions between teams, reviewing the scope of work to insure everyone understands their responsibilities, establishing a consistent client point of contact, forecasting a timeline for development and delivery and formally opening lines of communication for dialogue.
If you want a healthy client relationship, you have to build a solid foundation starting from day one. Otherwise, you might be fighting an uphill battle from the beginning.
Some believe this is a given, but most of the time we encounter clients who do not have a true grasp of the inbound process. If we do not feel they are adequately prepared for inbound marketing during our sales encounters, we will take our first few meetings to explain the inbound process and the role our agency plays in this.