Happy Valenclients Day!
It’s that time of the year, that one day of the year where you put your heart on your sleeve and tell the one you love…. Well, that you love them. And for those who have been together for a long time, a great chance to remind them.
In the ad world, there is an abundance of love. Love for good creative, love for breaking barriers, love for new challenges and so on. However I fear Cupid's arrow falls just short when it comes to clients, and building client relationships. I speak now with 3 years’ experience in account management, and even in that short period of time I have come to realise first-hand the opportunities and benefits that come about from building just that bond.
I believe it’s forgotten that clients are just normal people. Just as we used to think our teachers didn’t have lives outside of the school gates and that their sole purpose was to teach only. I have news for you: Mr Gough was a normal person. He too wanders up aisle four at Sainsbury’s and deliberates whether to get custard creams or Bourbon biscuits. He too saves pieces of skirting board to mix paint up with at home. They are normal people. So let’s start talking to them like they are.
The obvious benefit of having a personable client rapport is that it not only helps to break down difficult conversations, but can open the gates to a much more fluid two-way line of communication. A simple solution to something that can otherwise hinder projects and more importantly damage the possibly of great, award winning work.
Being able to just talk to your client is hugely beneficial to the way you work as well. No one wants to be in a situation where problems are just swept under the rug to surface again at a later more inconvenient time. I can guarantee picking up the phone and having a 10 minute conversation with your client is going to save you 2 hours of back and forth on emails. I am by no means ousting the efficiency of e-mail, but they can sometimes fail to express any personality. Something I would argue we are in the business of.
The role of a ‘Suit’ is ever changing. Where we previously provided a service only, we are now in the business of understanding the client’s business, understanding the people they talk to and understanding the environment in which they [we] need to deliver. Building these relationships can only help understand all the above, no? Fundamentally, we need to ensure that that the client is holding a trusted hand. It’s our job to make sure that grip is as comfortable and secure as possible.
So, have I tried to make a terrible parallel between and Valentines Day and good client relationships? Yes I have, sue me. But I hope this makes you pick up that phone, speak sweet nothings down the line and show your client a bit of love. Send them that video of a panda sneezing, discuss if they think Leicester have what it takes to go the full slog and take the Premier League title (come on Arsenal, don’t break my heart this Sunday) and build that relationship.
Stephen Bennett, Account Manager, FCB Inferno